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Idella Purnell Stone and Palms:

An Inventory of Materials at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Stone, Idella Purnell, 1901-
Title: Idella Purnell Stone Personal Papers and Records of
Dates: 1922-1960
Extent: 7 boxes (2.92 linear feet) and 1 oversize folder
Abstract: The Idella Purnell Stone personal papers and records of Palms document the creation and operations of the literary magazine by its American producer and editor. Working in Mexico, Stone developed professional and personal relationships with writers and poets such as D.H. Lawrence, Mable Dodge Luhan, and Warren Gilbert which are reflected in the manuscripts and correspondence that make up the bulk of the papers.
RLIN record #: TCRC98-A24
Language: English.
Access

Open for research




Acquisition

Purchase and gift, 1958-1979 (G235)

Processed by

Chelsea Jones, 1998

Repository:

Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin


Idella Purnell (1901-1982) was raised in Guadalajara, Mexico, by her father, an American dentist. In 1918, she entered the University of California at Berkeley where, in her second semester, she attended a poetry class taught by Witter Bynner. In 1921, Purnell became an associate editor of The Occident, the university's literary magazine and played an active role in the Verse Guild, a co-ed writing society.

When Idella graduated in 1922 she returned to Guadalajara, took a secretarial job at the American Consulate, and kept house for her father. When she began to feel intellectually stifled she looked around for an outlet. Her copious correspondence with her college friends helped somewhat and when she received a small pamphlet of poems from W.W. Lyman she wondered if she could produce the same sort of thing as a Christmas present for friends. This idea grew into the notion of publishing a small magazine. After considerable soul-searching and communication with friends she decided that it was possible.

In the Spring of 1923, the first issue of Palms was produced. Two former classmates of Purnell's, Barbara Burks and Vernon King served as associate editors and Witter Bynner and Agustin Basave acted as contributing editors. Each poem went to all four editors who returned their comments to Purnell, who made the final decisions on which poems were published. The first issue of Palms included poems by Basave, Bynner, David Greenhood, Jack Lyman, Harold Vinal and several others. The magazine could not pay poets for their work, so prizes were offered and like other little poetry magazines of the times, it was considered a forum for unknown or beginning poets.

There were many difficulties in getting Palms published. Purnell acted as the head editor, typist, proof-reader, salesperson, and circulation department, all the while maintaining her position at the Consulate. She had help from her father and a little from her sister, who designed the first cover. The magazine never made enough money to be profitable and circulation never reached much more than 2,000 subscriptions. Despite these problems Palms was well received by the poetry community. The taste of the editor was complimented and many of the young poets Purnell published went on to become well-, or at least better-known. Some established poets were also published in Palms, including Bynner of course, but also D.H. Lawrence who visited Purnell in Mexico, Mable Dodge Luhan, and Warren Gilbert. Lawrence also provided some cover designs for Palms and persuaded the Danish artist Kai Götzsche to do the same.

Purnell continued to produce Palms until May of 1930. During that time she married John M. Weatherwax in 1927. She had met him in Los Angeles in 1925 where she spent a summer working at the public library. After their marriage Purnell moved to Aberdeen, Washington, with her husband and Palms moved with them. Shortly after she became pregnant, Weatherwax sent her back to Guadalajara to have the baby. Georgia Bryant Weathermax was born in April of 1928 but died a month later. Her father never saw her. In 1929 Weatherwax sued for divorce from Purnell on the grounds of alleged desertion. Despite the divorce, Purnell and Weatherwax collaborated on 19 books between June 1929 and October 1930, when Weatherwax sent Purnell to New York to find a publisher for their manuscripts. On the trip Purnell was introduced to Remi Stone by her good friend Isaac Benjamin. It was love at first sight. Stone acted as the business manager for Palms for its final 8 issues, and in 1932 they were married. Purnell continued to use her maiden name professionally after both of her marriages.

While little else about Purnell's life has been published, the story of Palms did not end with the final 1930 issue. In 1932 Purnell received a letter from Elmer Nicholas, a minister in Frankton, Indiana. He inquired after the name, rights, and subscription list for Palms and whether she had disposed of them and whether he might acquire them. Purnell agreed and for the payment of the magazine's debts, Nicholas revived publication of the little poetry magazine.


Grasty, Sue Watkins. "Pesos and Poets: The Story of a Little Magazine". Unpublished manuscript, 1963. HRC Archives, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.


Correspondence having to do with the creation and running of the Palms, poetry magazine makes up the bulk of the Idella Purnell Stone Papers, 1922-1960. Manuscripts submitted to Palms, personal letters, and Purnell's own poetry round out the papers, which are organized into three series, with materials arranged alphabetically by title or author: I. Works, 1922-1933 (.5 box); II. Correspondence, 1922-1960 (5.5 boxes); and III. Manuscripts Submitted to Palms, 1923-1928 (1 box). This collection was previously accessible through a card catalog, but has been re-cataloged as part of a retrospective conversion project.

The Works Series is composed of holograph and typescript manuscripts of Purnell's poetry as well as various advertisements, lists, and notes regarding Palms. Of particular interest may be Purnell's recounting of her collaboration and friendship with D.H. Lawrence, "D.H. Lawrence Revises some Poems." Individual titles by Purnell are listed in the Index of Works at the end of this guide.

The Correspondence Series is particularly noteworthy due to its size and the presence of quite a few letters from Purnell. This series is divided into three subseries: Subseries A. Outgoing Correspondence, 1922-1960; Subseries B. Incoming Correspondence, 1922-1958; and Subseries C. Third-Party Correspondence, 1923-1951. The majority of the almost 2000 pieces of incoming and outgoing mail deal with the publication of Palms and include correspondence with both contributors and subscribers, but there are a few personal letters included. Many of the incoming letters have notes and responses penciled on them by Purnell, generally in an editor's blue pencil. Some of the larger accumulations of letters came from Albert Bender, Isaac Benjamin, Witter Bynner, Hildegarde Flanner, Ellen Glines, David Greenhood, Spud Johnson, D.H. Lawrence, Lee Shippey, Harold Vinal, as well as others. The Third-party section contains many letters written to Witter Bynner, in his capacity as contributing editor, and to John Weatherwax, Purnell's first husband and publisher of Palms after 1927, among others. All correspondents can be identified in the Index of Correspondents at the end of this guide.

The "Manuscripts Submitted to "Palms Series contains a number of manuscripts of poems and articles submitted to Palms, most of them typescript. Some of the primary contributors included Isaac Benjamin, Witter Bynner, Hildegard Flanner, Warren Gilbert, Lenonard Hinton, and Marie Welch. Individual works are listed by author in the Index of Works by Other Authors at the end of this guide.

Elsewhere in the Ransom Center are 28 photographs associated with Idella Purnell Stone, located in the Literary Files of the Photography Collection, and 22 Vertical File folders of poems by various authors published in a variety of poetry magazines. An unpublished manuscript titled "Pesos and Poets: The Story of a Little Magazine" by Sue Watkins Grasty which details the story of Palms and provides a general biography of Purnell, is located in the HRC Archives (folder 61.12). Issues of Palms are also available including vol. 1-4 no. 2; vol. 5 no. 5-6; and vol. 7, no. 6; as well as a comprehensive author, title, and first line index for 1923-1930 (PN 1010. P256 HRC; PN 1010. P256 Index HRC).


Other materials associated with Idella Purnell Stone may be found in the following collections at the Ransom Center:

  • Contempo
  • Johnson, Spud
  • Lawrence, Frieda
  • Lindsay, Nicholas Vachel
  • Nehls, Edward
  • Zukofsky, Louis


Correspondents

Auslander, Joseph, 1897-

Bender, Albert M. (Albert Maurice), 1866-1941.

Benjamin, Isaac.

Burnshaw, Stanley, 1906-

Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968.

Conant, Isabel Fiske, 1874-

Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946.

Field, Arthur F.

Field, Benjamin Franklin, 1868-

Flanner, Hildegarde, 1899-

Gilbert, Warren.

Glines, Ellen.

Greenhood, David.

Hinton, Leonard.

Holmes, John Albert, Jr., 1904-1962.

Johnson, Walter Willard, 1897-1968.

Laing, Alexander, 1903-

Lawrence, D.H. (David Herbert), 1885-1930.

Lindsay, Elizabeth Conner, 1901-1954.

Lindsay Vachel, 1879-1931.

Long, Haniel, 1888-1956.

Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962.

Monroe, Harriet, 1860-1936.

Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972.

Ridge, Lola, 1883-1941.

Riding, Laura, 1901- .

Shippey, Lee, 1884- .

Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.

Strong, L.A.G. (Leonard Alfred George), 1896-1958.

Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972.

Vinal, Harold, 1891- .

Walkup, Fairfax (Proudfit), 1887-

Weatherwax, John Martin, 1900-

Welch, Marie de L. (Marie de Laveaga), 1905-1974.

Subjects

American poetry--20th century.

Poetry magazines--20th century.

Document types

Drawings.

Postcards.

Titles

Palms.