Collection Dates: 1943 -- 1963
3 linear ft.
This document describes a collection of materials held
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Posted to Internet: January 1998
Acquisition Note: This collection was given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Elswyth Thane in 1961 to 1963.
Access and Restrictions: This collection
is open for research.
This collection is open for research.
Audio Material: Box 2
Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.
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Born in Burlington, Iowa, on May 16, 1900, Elswyth Thane (nee Helen Ricker) spent most of her life on the East coast. She always wanted to write and had her first novel published in 1926. When she was a child, her family spent many summers in England and for many years her writing was dominated by an English scene. Thane specialized in biography and historical fiction. The Tudor Wench, her biography of Queen Elizabeth I, later became a play. She also authored a play titled, Young Mr. Disaeli.
When World War II broke out and she was no longer able to stay in England to do the extensive research required for her writing, her novels began drawing on American history. The first of her "Williamsburg novels" was published in 1943. She also wrote biographies of George and Martha Washington. Elswyth Thane (who was the widow of naturalist and explorer, William Beebe) died in 1984, at the age of eighty-four.
The papers of Elswyth Thane date from 1943 to 1963 and are comprised of three linear feet of literary manuscripts and research material. The first five books in her "Williamsburg" series are represented with holograph notebooks containing her first drafts. There are also printer's copies and correspondence for some of the novels. The writing of Potomac Squire, Thane's biography of George Washington, is documented with a holograph notebook of draft one, working typescripts, an author's index, and audiotapes of Thane reading letters at Mount Vernon.
The Bird Who Made Good. Notebook, 1947
Dawn's Early Light. Notebooks, 1943 (3 folders)
Notebooks (2 folders)
Homing. Notebooks, 1957 (3 folders)
Kissing Kin. Notebooks (4 folders)
The Light Heart
Notebooks (4 folders)
Printer's copy with revisions (2 folders)
Newspaper clippings, 1938 -- 1984 and undated
The Peoples Choice, Sears Peoples Book Club; book excerpts and small articles about E. Thane and W. Beebe (2 issues)
Author's index, 1963
Working typescript with corrections (2 folders)
Working typescript with corrections
Correspondence, 1946 and notes 1944
Tape recordings (5 reels. Tapes 1 -- 4 are 5 inch reel-to-reel and tape 5 i3 5 3/4 inch reel-to-reel tape.)
Tape 1: Test reading of [Lewis's?] diary; Lund Washington letters October to December (17)75.
Side 1: Lund Washington letters
Side 2: October 1, 1783 -- 1790; Index to the letters
Side 1: Overseers notebook; family notebook
Side 2: Conway q. on Martha; [Powee?] diary; [Lacky?] to Martha '76
Tape 4: Wall's pamphlet at MV [Mount Vernon?]; Wayland-Washington and their homes; Labrobe Memoirs
Tape 5: Unpublished letters from Lund Washington to the General 1776-78.