Arthur Meeker, Jr. Papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Correspondence with family members and colleagues including E. M. Delafield and George Dillon, research notes and a handwritten manuscript of the novel The Ivory Mischief, datebooks, biographical materials; genealogical materials on the Meeker and Murray families, and photographs.
- Creation: approximately 1850-1972
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1920 - 1945
- Meeker, Arthur, 1902-1971 (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Arthur Meeker, Jr. papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Arthur Meeker, Jr. papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.
Biography of Arthur Meeker, Jr.
Novelist, newspaper columnist, and son of prominent Chicago society family.
Arthur Meeker, Jr. was born in 1902, the son of Arthur Meeker and Grace Murray Meeker. His father was an executive at Armour & Co., and his mother was the daughter of a well known Chicago family who grew up on Prairie Avenue. In addition to Arthur, the Meekers had three daughters, Grace, Katherine and Mary.
The Meeker family’s first residence was also on Prairie Avenue. They later built a luxurious home at 3030 Lake Shore Drive, and also owned Arcady Farm near Lake Forest. The family was quite active in society, throwing lavish parties and supporting the arts and conservative political causes.
Meeker studied at Princeton and Harvard, where he majored in playwriting. He was unhappy in college and never graduated. He tried his hand at several writing endeavors, including writing society and travel items for the Chicago American, the Chicagoan, Chicago Herald and the Daily News before finding success as a novelist with several highly regarded historical works. His most well known novel was The Ivory Mischief, which recreated 17th century France. He wrote two novels with Chicago settings: The Far Away Music andPrairie Avenue, which drew on his experiences growing up in the midst of Chicago's high society in the early part of the 20th century.
Arthur Meeker travelled extensively in Europe and eventually purchased a chalet in Switzerland where he spent part of each year. He wrote faithfully, sometimes daily to his mother from these trips. During the 1930s Meeker writes of an intense relationship with a man named Allen, and it's possible to assume from the tone and his parent's disapproval, that it was a homosexual relationship. At the time of his death he had been living with a Robert Molnar from as early as 1940, and Meeker left his estate to Molnar in his will. Meeker died in their New York City apartment on October 22, 1971.
5 Linear Feet (11 boxes and 1 oversize box)
Correspondence, personal materials, works, and photographs of Chicago author Arthur Meeker, Jr.
Papers are organized in the following series
- Series 1: Correspondence, 1906-1971
- Boxes 1-7
- Series 2: Personal Materials, 1906-1972
- Box 8
- Series 3: Works, 1906-1972
- Boxes 8-8a
- Series 4: Meeker Family Materials, 1884-1950
- Box 9
- Series 5: Photographs, approximately 1850s-1960s
- Box 10
Collection Stack Location
1 26 3; 1 45 2
Gifts of Mary Meeker Cramer and Fanny Butcher, 1976; Robert Molnar, 1977.
Diana Haskell, 1978; Lisa Janssen, 2007.
This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Genre / Form
- Correspondence -- 1901-1950
- Correspondence -- 1951-2000
- Photographs -- 1901-1950
- Photographs -- 1951-2000
- Children of the rich -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Expatriate authors
- Male homosexuality -- United States -- History -- 20th century
- Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Mothers and sons -- Correspondence
- Rich people -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Socialites -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Upper class -- United States -- Social life and customs
- Inventory of the Arthur Meeker, Jr. papers, approximately 1850-1972, bulk 1920-1945
- Lisa Janssen
- Language of description
- Script of description