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The Sunwise Turn/Mary Mowbray-Clarke Papers

An Inventory of Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Mowbray-Clarke, Mary Horgan, 1874-1962
Title: The Sunwise Turn/Mary Mowbray-Clarke Papers
Dates: 1852-1987
Extent: 30 boxes (12.6 linear feet), 2 oversize folders (osf), 2 galley files (gf), 2 oversize boxes (osb)
Abstract: The papers of The Sunwise Turn bookshop and of its co-founder Mary Mowbray-Clarke include business and personal records, correspondence, art works, and related materials.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4126>
Language: English and French
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Purchases, 1977-2012 (R7538, 12-06-009-P)

Processed by:

Bob Taylor, 2013

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


Mary Helena Bothwell Horgan was born to Timothy and Catharine Bothwell Horgan in Nyack, New York, on 1 September 1874. The elder Horgans had married in Ireland and immigrated to Virginia in the early 1850s before returning to Great Britain several years later. In 1863, the family gave America another try, settling at Nyack, in Rockland County, just up the Hudson River from New York City. Mary was the youngest child and one of six Horgan children living at the time of Timothy's death in 1890.

Mary displayed an early interest in art, perhaps encouraged by her brother Andrew. She began formal study at the Art Students League in New York in the early 1890s and within a few years was teaching art history at the Finch School, as well as giving lectures and writing art criticism. In 1902, Mary Horgan published the first edition of her art history syllabus The Argonaut Art History .

In 1906, Mary Horgan met John F. Mowbray-Clarke, a Jamaican-born English sculptor who had moved from London to New York City in 1896. After a brief courtship they were married 28 March 1907. Not long after the birth of their only child, John Bothwell Mowbray-Clarke in the fall of 1908, the couple bought a small farm on South Mountain Road in rural Rockland County, New York, and began a period of urban and rural life. With John and Mary's many contacts in the art world they soon found their country place (which they named The Brocken) had become the nucleus of an informal artistic community.

In late 1911, John Mowbray-Clarke helped found the Association of American Painters and Sculptors (AAPS) and was elected its vice president. The association had been created with the specific aim of exhibiting and promoting the work of younger American and European artists, and toward this end hired the armory of the 69th Regiment of the New York National Guard for one month.

Thus did the International Exhibition of Modern Art--the Armory Show--open on 17 February 1913. The controversial Armory Show, which would later travel to Chicago and Boston, was an important event in the history of American art, as it introduced U.S. audiences to avant-garde artists and experimental forms of Modern Art.

Not long after Bothwell's birth John had, without Mary, attended a dinner given by "some liberal group" in the city. That evening he told his wife he'd been seated between "two of the most interesting women in America." One was the biographer Katharine Anthony; the other was Madge Jenison.

Madge Jenison was born in Chicago in 1874 to Edward S. and Caroline Jenison. Edward Jenison was a prominent Chicago architect; both parents were Ohio-born. In the first years of the 20th century Madge Jenison moved from Chicago to Manhattan and found success as a writer of short stories and social commentary. Not long after her encounter with John Mowbray-Clarke, she was invited for a visit to the Brocken, and soon she and John and Mary were good friends.

In late 1915, Madge Jenison conceived the idea that "a bookshop of a different kind must be opened in America." She sought to enlist her friend Mary Mowbray-Clarke in the project, and quickly gained her cooperation. Talking to people in publishing and bookselling wasn’t encouraging for the two amateurs, but they pressed on with their project and developed ideas for their "different" bookshop.

After much looking they found and leased a building at 2 East 31st Street that forty years before had been in a desirable location; now it was careworn and quaint. Mary and Madge, and various friends, used artistic skill, hard work, and fresh paint to bring the structure to life. The matter of what to call the venture was settled when Mary's old friend Amy Murray suggested The Sunwise Turn--"sunwise" to express the idea that movement as the sun moves is lucky. And so it was The Sunwise Turn. The firm was incorporated, stock sold, and a board of directors seated (the first board comprised Madge’s mother Caroline, John Mowbray-Clarke, and Alfred Harcourt of the publishing house of Harcourt Brace).

The dream of a bookstore that would meet needs previously ignored in American bookselling was outlined in the 1916 prospectus which announced that "The Sunwise Turn: the Modern Book Shop" intended to prepare subject booklists, to make foreign works promptly available, and to offer some paintings, sculptures, prints, and textiles. It made clear that the store was to be a place for readers as well as book-buyers and that readings and talks would be scheduled from time to time (Theodore Dreiser was the first to give a reading, on 30 April 1916).

The stresses upon a brave but undercapitalized venture became evident by the end of World War One. When Harold Loeb and his wife Marjorie Content Loeb came aboard in 1919 as stockholders and officers difficulties between Mary Mowbray-Clarke and the Loebs were not long in making themselves evident.

Initially Loeb and Mary worked together well, and (as Loeb told it in his The Way it Was) she supported his belief that Madge Jenison "was no good in a business organization" and joined him in buying Madge out. Before long he and Mary were at loggerheads about fundamental aspects of The Sunwise Turn. At length he came to believe they would not compromise and offered to either buy her out or to sell his shares to her. After a short stressful interval she was able to obtain the necessary funds, and the Loebs left the firm before the end of 1920. Mary was now the president, treasurer, and major stockholder in The Sunwise Turn.

In late 1919, the book store had lost its lease to the original location and moved to the Yale Club building at 51 East 44th Street. Despite the turmoil within The Sunwise Turn in 1919 and 1920 business continued to grow into the 1920/21 fiscal year, after which sales retrenched somewhat and then remained flat. The publication program the store had begun was dropped after 1920; the sideline of interior decoration ceased earlier.

With Jenison's departure Ruth McCall joined the firm as a stockholder and salaried employee. Her relations with Mowbray-Clarke appear to have been collegial and uneventful until her departure at the end of 1923. Curiously, the only significant first person account of The Sunwise Turn was written by Madge Jenison and published in 1923 as Sunwise Turn, a Human Comedy of Bookselling. Jenison's book deals with the store more than its staff but contains no suggestion of discord. She carries her narrative only up to the end of 1920.

By the mid 1920s, The Sunwise Turn had passed beyond the period of growth and tumult, but with little hope of significant investment and with sluggish sales even the unflagging resolve of Mary Mowbray-Clarke seemed unlikely to turn the situation around. Jessie Richards Dwight replaced Ruth McCall in the spring of 1924 as acting vice president and secretary for the remainder of Ms. McCall's term ending in mid-1925.

After repeated failures to develop new sources of investment or to deal satisfactorily with indebtedness, the end came in 1927. At the stockholders' meeting of 8 March, Mary pointed out that due to "the condition of the corporation" and the "lack of funds" the store should be closed and the lease and assets disposed of. Her motion passed, and the next day the directors accepted the proposition of Doubleday Page & Co. to acquire the lease, stock, and good will of the firm for $5,000.

For months after The Sunwise Turn closed its doors Mary Mowbray-Clarke worked to pay debts the corporation had incurred and to distribute assets among the stockholders. A quantity of books not accepted by Doubleday Page was sold off and the proceeds added to the other assets in hand.

At the beginning of 1920, Mary had learned that John Mowbray-Clarke had left New York with a woman pupil and settled in Canada, eventually moving back to England. In the last years of The Sunwise Turn she and her son had led a difficult existence with mother commuting from Manhattan to rural Rockland County and son completing his high school work, and both working to maintain The Brocken.

During the years 1927 through 1929, Mary worked on a projected history of reading and readership tentatively entitled Print Proud. While she collected notes on intended chapters for the book, only the introduction and a first chapter were actually completed.

In the early 1930s, Mowbray-Clarke grew interested in landscape design as a creative outlet and pursued this study at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. She was soon finding work in Rockland County in designing and installing gardens for private clients, and in the years 1935 to 1938 executed her best-known project, the Dutch Gardens adjoining the county courthouse in New City, New York. It is said to be the only Works Progress Administration-sanctioned outdoor construction project created and supervised by a woman.

Mary’s last effort at publication was Eden in Our Time, a sort of natural history of the lands around her rural home in Rockland County. She worked on this project for five years, from 1955 to 1960, but never succeeded in finding a publisher willing to take a chance on its commercial possibilities.

Mary Mowbray-Clarke remained active, alert, and opinionated to the end of her long life. She died at home on 20 November 1962.


Jenison, Madge. Sunwise Turn: a Human Comedy of Bookselling. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1923

Loeb, Harold. The Way it Was. New York: Criterion Books, 1959

Mary Mowbray-Clarke is Dead; Widow of Sculptor War Critic. New York: The New York Times, 21 November 1962

Mowbray-Clarke, John Bothwell. [autograph letter to Mary Mowbray-Clarke, 1953?]

Tietjens, Eunice. The World at My Shoulder. New York: Macmillan, 1938

Timothy Horgan Dead. Nyack, N.Y.: Rockland County Journal, 11 January 1890


The papers of The Sunwise Turn and Mary Mowbray-Clarke embrace the years 1852 to 1987 and include manuscripts, correspondence, financial records, photographs, art works, proofs, diaries, legal documents, and clippings. These papers are generally in an order created at the Ransom Center.

The materials are arranged in two series, each of which comprises four subseries. Series I. The Sunwise Turn Papers, 1916-1929 includes Subseries A. General Business Records, 1904-1929; Subseries B. Publications published or distributed by The Sunwise Turn, 1916-1927; Subseries C. Correspondence, 1906-1929; and Subseries D. Sales and banking records, 1919-1929. Series II. Mary Mowbray-Clarke papers, 1852-1987 includes Subseries A. Works, 1880-1960; Subseries B. Correspondence, 1903-1960; Subseries C. Other papers, 1884-1962; Subseries D. Books and periodicals, 1895-1987; and Subseries E. Works and papers of others, 1852-1964.

Subseries I.A. General Business records, 1904-1929 (4 boxes) contains primarily records created in the last several years of the active life of the firm and was likely retained by Mary Mowbray-Clarke to assist her in paying New York state taxes and in distributing assets of the dissolved corporation to its stockholders.

Minutes of stockholders' meetings, stock certificates, corporation reports, and customers' bills were potentially useful in establishing the firm's assets. Also present are records which Mowbray-Clarke may have hoped to use in a history of the firm. Two of these are "Materials for history" in folder 1.1 and "The Loeb family and The Sunwise Turn" in folder 4.3. There is internal evidence Mowbray-Clarke assembled these folders years after the firm ceased business.

Subseries I.B. Publications published or distributed by The Sunwise Turn, 1916-1927 (2 boxes) represents fragmentary records of the printed works issued by The Sunwise Turn. Of the material present in the papers the most significant are the files for Ananda K. Coomaraswamy's The Dance of Śiva (1918) (which contains considerable correspondence from Coomaraswamy to Mowbray-Clarke and others) and also of his Prayers and Epigrams. The latter, which was issued in an edition of a hundred copies, is represented by a copy of the tiny work as well as the original ink drawing from which its single illustration was produced.

Subseries I.C. Correspondence, 1906-1929 (1 box) is a near random group of business letters from publishers, book stores, customers, and the occasional author (Clarence Day, Alfred Kreymborg, Christopher Morley). A series of letters written by The Sunwise Turn's legal counsel, Charles B. Alling, advising Mowbray-Clarke on issues involved in dissolving the corporation after 1927 is the most significant business correspondence in the series.

There is an interesting group of letters from a young Oxford undergraduate, David Eccles, who later held ministerial posts in Parliament and was in 1964 created Viscount Eccles. Eccles was a buyer for The Sunwise Turn in the years 1924-1927. Another British-based buyer of this period found in the papers is Helen B. Allan.

Subseries I.D. Sales and banking records, 1919-1929 (4 boxes) embraces those sales and banking records Mary Mowbray-Clarke retained after The Sunwise Turn closed in the spring of 1927. These records date primarily from the years 1923-1927 and, like the General business records found in subseries I.A. above, were likely intended to document the settlement of debts and the distribution of assets of the firm.

The invoices and sales slips offer concrete evidence as to what titles the store was stocking and selling in those years. Likewise, the canceled checks identify some employees of The Sunwise Turn not otherwise named in the papers due to the lack of any surviving personnel files.

Subseries II.A. Works, 1880-1960 (4 boxes and 2 oversize boxes) contains the files of Mary Mowbray-Clarke's Eden in our Time manuscript, the correspondence and materials relating to the unfinished Print Proud project, as well as various brief pieces and notes.

The art work present here includes not only works by Mrs. Mowbray-Clarke but also works by other artists and unidentified pieces. This filing policy was employed because works by known creators were outnumbered by those for whom the artists were unknown.

Works by other artists include several drawings by John Wolcott Adams, including two sketches of Mowbray-Clarke executed in their student days and presented to her. There is also a suite of ink drawings for periodical illustration by Rafael M. de Soto, a multi-media work by Jerome Myers, and several sketches by John F. Mowbray-Clarke. For the latter artist his plaster medallion The New Spirit (1913) is also present. An index of artists is provided at the end of this finding aid which lists all identified artists.

Subseries II.B. Correspondence, 1903-1960 (2.5 boxes) found in the papers includes a substantial number of letters from people significant in Mary Mowbray-Clarke's life. Despite the span dates of 1906-1960 the major part of the correspondence represents the years 1906 to about 1918.

Principal family correspondents are Mary's brother Andrew Horgan and her niece Gertrude Kitson, daughter of her brother Stephen. The group of letters between John Mowbray-Clarke and Mary include a number of courtship messages from 1906 and 1907. This correspondence is doubly important because it includes the only significant group of letters by Mary Mowbray-Clarke to be found anywhere in the papers.

People Mary Mowbray-Clarke became acquainted with as an art teacher include Irene Lewisohn and her sister Alice Lewisohn Crowley, Rose Greely, and the future educator Ruth Catlin, all of whom she taught at the Finch School. A notable series of 1912-1914 letters from the American sculptor Beatrice Wood to Mowbray-Clarke is also present, as are letters of Dorothea and Gladys Cromwell, other early pupils.

Mary Mowbray-Clarke's gift for friendship is seen in the diversity of her correspondents. In the papers are found not only letters from her old friend Grace Holt Reed, a woman of assured social position, but also from Howard Kretz Coluzzi, an artist-eccentric as well-known for having survived a jump from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River as for his art. There are also letters from Madge Jenison in the years before The Sunwise Turn was dreamed of, and also from Clara Sidney Taylor, wife of the artist Henry Fitch Taylor.

Subseries II.C. Other papers, 1884-1962 (6 boxes) contains a number of items of biographical significance, including Mrs. Mowbray-Clarke's diary for the period 24 November 1897-31 December 1898. This account of 13 months in Boston records books read, walks taken, letters written, work (art, cooking, laundry, housekeeping) done and conversations engaged in by a 24 year old workaholic. Related materials include a 1915 address book and appointment books for 1918 and 1925, along with a series of loose-leaf notes written between 1928 and 1961 that are similar in content to the Old House notes filed in folder 15.7.

The photographs found in the subseries range from an original print of Chief Big Tree’s sister taken by William S. Soule at Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1870 to photographs of Mowbray-Clarke made in 1960. The largest group of related prints is nude studies of Mary and John Mowbray-Clarke dating from about 1908. A note in Mary Mowbray-Clarke's hand reads "Photos of M.H.M-C taken by J.M-C for sculptural poses." Other photos are rural scenes, art works, and people (identified and not), mostly pre-1930.

Accompanying the photographs is a substantial group of glass lantern slides. These slides were used by Mary Mowbray-Clarke in conjunction with her work as a teacher of art history and generally depict Asian and Western art works. There are also present a number of glass plate negatives of Mowbray-Clarke and of Rockland County from 1903 to the late 1920s.

The remainder of the subseries consists of the papers of a 1916 apartment house project in which the Mowbray-Clarkes were briefly interested, along with various fragmentary household records.

Subseries II.D. Books and periodicals, 1895-1987 (3 boxes) embraces a variety of printed matter related to Mary Mowbray-Clarke. The most significant items are a group of issues of The Independent containing articles by or mentioning the Mowbray-Clarkes, as well as a group of periodical articles by the psychoanalyst Trigant Burrow.

Subseries II.E. Works and papers of others, 1852-1964 (2 boxes) includes a number of texts in manuscript, written between about 1919 and 1934. Of these the most significant in the context of these papers is an apparently incomplete handwritten manuscript with crayon illustrations in the hand of John F. Mowbray-Clarke. It comprises 6 text leaves and 5 leaves of drawings.

Other papers present include Madge Jenison's 1958 Daily Reminder diary with several letters laid in together with the correspondence of John F. Mowbray-Clarke, John B. Mowbray-Clarke, and a group of third party correspondence.

John F. Mowbray-Clarke's correspondence, 1889-1920, includes a number of letters from artists (Gutzon Borglum, Paul Moschcowitz, Jerome Myers, Henry M. Shrady, Solomon J. Solomon, and Beatrice Wood), family (sister Margaret Clarke and aunt Harriet Walton) and various students and owners of medallic sculpture. Several of the letters found here were received by Mowbray-Clarke before his 1896 removal to the United States.

The correspondence of John Bothwell Mowbray-Clarke present here is virtually all in the form of greeting cards from friends and neighbors of his parents and dates from about 1910 to 1915. There are a couple of outgoing letters by Bothwell, one as a child to his parents and one as a college age young man.

The third party correspondence includes letters from about two dozen letter writers. The earliest present was written by Laurinda Cromwell of Vassalboro, Maine on 12 February 1852 to "my dear child." It is in an envelope addressed to Mr. John Walker of Union, Maine. The latest in the group was sent to writer William S. Wilson by his mother, artist May Wilson and is dated 13 July 1964.

A letter written by the sculptor J. Massey Rhind to another sculptor, Ordway Partridge, was dated at New York on 3 September 1897 and stated that John Mowbray-Clarke was "earnest and careful in his work." Rhind also noted that Mowbray-Clarke had been in New York since his arrival from England "a little over a year ago."

The third party correspondence also includes three letters addressed to Beatrice Wood at The Brocken in the early summer of 1912. The first of these is by Wood’s mother Caroline, the second by Hélène in Newtonville, Massachusetts, and the last by Leo at Knob Hill Farm in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.


The papers of Madge Jenison are in the holdings of the New York Public Library.


People

Armfield, Maxwell, 1881-1972.

Coomaraswamy, 1877-1947.

Cory, Herbert E. (Herbert Ellsworth), 1883-1947.

Cromwell, Dorothea Katharine.

Cromwell, Gladys, 1885-1919.

Crowley, Alice.

Eccles, David Eccles, viscount, 1904- .

Greely, Rose, 1887-1969.

Horgan, Andrew J.

Hunt, Esther Anna, 1875-1951.

Jenison, Madge, 1874-1960.

Kitson, Gertrude.

Kretz Coluzzi, Howard.

Lewisohn, Irene, d. 1944.

Moschcowitz, Paul.

Mowbray-Clarke, John Frederick, 1869-1953.

Murray, Amy, 1865- .

Reed, Grace Holt.

Shrady, Henry Merwin, 1871-1922.

Taylor, Clara Sidney.

Van Orden, Alice Einstein.

Walker, Sophia A.

Willard, Mary Bannister, b. 1841.

Wood, Beatrice.

Organizations

Arts and Crafts Theatre (Detroit, Mich.).

Diamond Press.

Macmillan Company.

Subjects

Art--New York (State)--New York.

Artists--United States--20th century.

Booksellers and bookselling--New York (State)--New York.

New York (N.Y.)--Intellectual life.

Sunwise Turn (Firm).

Places

Rockland County (N.Y.).

Document Types

Broadsides.

Cartoons (humorous images).

Christmas cards.

Diaries.

Drawings.

Elevations.

First Drafts.

Galley proofs.

Juvenilia.

Legal documents.

Love letters.

Negatives.

Photographs.

Plans.

Postcards.

Slides.