Henry E. Turlington:
An Inventory of His Collection of Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott Materials at the Harry Ransom Center
Henry E. Turlington (1945-2012), a used and rare books dealer based in North Carolina, sold his collection of materials pertaining to Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott to the Harry Ransom Center in 1990.
Frederick Creighton Wellman, later known as Cyril Kay-Scott (1879-1960), was a self-described explorer, anthropologist, bacteriologist, journalist, linguist, economist, and latter-day Renaissance man.
In 1912, while Wellman was working in Honduras, he met Seely Dunn. The following year when they both returned to New Orleans, Dunn introduced Wellman to his daughter Elsie, later known as Evelyn Scott (1893-1963), who would become a literary force during the 1920s and 1930s. Wellman had four children (Frederick, Manley, Paul, and Alice) with his first wife, but was married to his second wife when he began a clandestine courtship with twenty year old Elsie. On December 26, 1913, Wellman and Dunn eloped to New York City, and due to the scandalous nature of their affair, changed their names to Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott. Shortly after arriving in New York, they took a boat to London and then settled as husband and wife in Bloomsbury.
Cyril made arrangements with the British Museum to collect entomological specimens in Latin America after realizing that he and Evelyn might be discovered in England. Soon after arriving in Brazil he found that collecting specimens was unrealistic and since he was unable to use credentials that would betray his past to obtain work, he was forced to work as a manual laborer. Eventually he obtained a job as a bookkeeper in a Singer Sewing Machine store, where he would be promoted to auditor and then superintendent, requiring the couple to move to Natal. In Natal, the couple's only child, Creighton "Jigg" Scott, was born on October 26, 1914.
In 1916 Kay-Scott moved his family, which now included Evelyn's mother, to Cercadinho, Brazil, an isolated valley four hundred miles inland in Bahia province, to become a rancher. Here both Cyril and Evelyn began to write both poetry and prose. In 1917 they abandoned the ranch and moved to Villa Nova where Cyril took a position with the International Ore Corporation.
In 1919, the family returned to New York so Evelyn could receive medical treatment. Cyril, Evelyn, and Creighton lived in Greenwich Village for the next two years. During this period Evelyn began writing for The Dial, reviewing work by James Joyce and D. H. Lawrence.
Evelyn's novel The Narrow House and Cyril's novel Blind Mice were published in spring 1921. Their novels received critical acclaim rather than commercial success. Cyril's stressful job and monetary woes caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown, which served to reunite him with Evelyn after an estrangement due to Evelyn's infidelities with Waldo Frank and William Carlos Williams.
In Bermuda in 1922, Evelyn and Cyril met Owen Merton, a painter, who eventually moved into their house accompanied by his son Thomas. Owen Merton became Evelyn's lover without apparent animosity on Cyril's part; in fact, it was Owen who encouraged Cyril to begin a new career as a watercolorist. Meanwhile, Evelyn completed The Golden Door and began work on Escapade. During 1923-24 the group traveled together and separately throughout Europe.
Cyril returned to America with Creighton in 1928, the same year he filed for divorce from his common-law marriage to Evelyn, and decided to pursue a career as an art teacher, setting up an art school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1931, Cyril gave up running the art school and became director of the Denver Art Museum. He retired from this position in 1934. Cyril worked for a time with Creighton on a Works Progress Administration project, but soon afterwards settled into retirement. In 1943, Cyril's autobiography, Life Is Too Short, was published.
In 1925, back in New York, Evelyn and Owen split due in part to Thomas Merton's disdain for Evelyn. Evelyn escaped to London where she would find her next lover, John Metcalfe; he became her husband in 1930. Evelyn's novel, The Wave (1929), sold well and received critical acclaim, but her next publication, a volume of poetry titled The Winter Alone (1930), received almost unanimously unfavorable reviews. Evelyn and John arrived in Santa Fe in 1929 to join Cyril and Creighton. In Santa Fe Evelyn worked on A Calendar of Sin (1931), a work based almost solely on her family history. In June of 1931 Evelyn and John accepted an invitation to work at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs. They spent three months in Yaddo and Evelyn was able to finish a substantial part of her new novel Eva Gay. They received a second invitation to stay at Yaddo and returned from England in 1933.
Evelyn accepted a teaching position at Skidmore College in 1939. Her career as an author ended in 1941, when The Shadow of the Hawk did not find success. In the fall of 1943 Evelyn traveled to Tappan, New Jersey, where Creighton and his wife Paula were living. This stay was fraught with tension since Evelyn's emotional state had deteriorated. The only other time she saw Creighton was in 1949 during a brief stopover he made in London. Evelyn returned to London in 1944 and until 1947 little is known of her activities. Evelyn's last appearance in print was a postwar contribution of a poem and three articles on American poetry in the Poetry Review.
In 1951, Evelyn's friend Margaret DeSilver established a fund to allow Evelyn and John to return to America. The original signatories on the draft appeal were: Waldo Frank, Dawn Powell, Allen Tate, Lewis Gannett, John Dos Passos, and Edmund Wilson. Sufficient money was raised for the couple's return passage in 1953. They arrived in California and for a year stayed at the Huntington Hartford Foundation at Pacific Palisades. They left California in 1954 for New York where they took up residence in the Benjamin Franklin Hotel on the upper West Side. John found work teaching at a boys' prep school only to lose this job a few years later due to his increasingly evident drinking problem. Evelyn fell ill in 1963 and was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was operated on, released on August 3rd, and died later that night in her sleep.
The Henry E. Turlington Collection consists of correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, photographs, postcards, financial documents, musical scores, maps, artwork, a legal document, and a diary relating to Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott dating 1881-1987. The material is organized into three series: I. Cyril Kay-Scott, 1881-1953 (5 boxes); II. Evelyn Scott, 1931-1987 (3 boxes); and III. Scott Family Papers, 1931-1982 (1 box). This accession is a collection of materials gathered over a period of time by the book dealer Henry Turlington. The collection subsequently bulks in areas that reflect Turlington's interests, largely material relating to Cyril's creative works, the Evelyn Scott Fund, and David Arthur Callard's biography of Evelyn Scott, Pretty Good for a Woman. Only Callard's material was maintained in its original order. The original order for the rest of the material could not be ascertained, therefore it is grouped into series that reflect the lives and works of Cyril, Evelyn, and, to a lesser degree, other family members.
The greatest bulk of the collection consists of Cyril Kay-Scott's creative works: three manuscript versions of his autobiography, Life is Too Short (1943), five spiral bound typescripts of poetry (ca. 1881-1949), and several short prose pieces (undated and 1928-48). Cyril's correspondence provides some insight into his relationships with family members, predominantly thirty-nine letters (1934-35) to Manly Wade Wellman, a son from his first marriage. Further information on Cyril's works is found in Cyril's collection of clippings, as well as in the Printed Material sub-series of the Scott Family Papers series. A significant amount of visual material (photographs, postcards, sketches, and annotated maps) documents his travels in Brazil, Africa, South America, and Bermuda (1913-1930). Further documentation about this period can be found in the Evelyn Scott series, with Callard's research material and manuscripts.
The Evelyn Scott series contains a small amount of correspondence from Scott herself. About half of these letters are to Lewis Gannett (1934-37), Herman Rappaport (1954-58), and Helen Woodward (1932-36). The remainder (1952-56), are directed to Margaret DeSilver, treasurer of the Evelyn Scott Fund. Related materials include correspondence with actual and potential supporters of the Fund (1951-61), financial documents, notes, and the solicitation flyers (1952-53). This period of Evelyn's life is also documented by copies of correspondence with Jean Rhys. However, most of the second series consists of research, manuscripts, and final galley proofs for Callard's Pretty Good for a Woman, the biography of Evelyn Scott. Callard's original order and folder titles have been maintained when possible.
The Scott Family Papers are a gathering of correspondence, manuscripts, and printed materials (1931-44, 1952) mostly relating to Cyril Kay-Scott, Evelyn Scott, and family matters. It includes Manly Wellman's clippings collection (1931-44) comprising articles by and about Cyril, with a few about Creighton. Manly appears to have collected family correspondence and clippings, but it was not possible to ascertain an original order for these materials. The correspondence, nearly all to Manly, provides some insight into the dynamics of the family. The few manuscripts in this series include photocopied notes and an undated manuscript (apparently unpublished) by Creighton titled "Confessions of an American Boy." Although this manuscript originally was housed with Callard's research material, it has been separated to the third series to keep family creative works together. Other creative works include two undated typescripts of a poem and a short prose piece by unidentified family members.
Series I. Cyril Kay-Scott, 1881-1953 (bulk 1921-1943), 5 boxes
This series is subdivided into five subseries: Creative Works, Correspondence, Scrapbook Material, Visual Material, and Miscellaneous. Creative works includes prose, poetry, musical scores, notes, and a sketchbook. The typescripts and holograph manuscripts of prose and poetry works are arranged alphabetically by title and represent the bulk of Kay-Scott's creative work. Also of interest are his letters, particularly those to his son Manly Wade Wellman dating 1934-1935, which exemplify his creative writing style. The Kay-Scott correspondence section also houses the typescript "Memorandum on a Projected Autobiography" by Kay-Scott as an enclosure in an undated letter to Creighton "Jigg" Scott, son of Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott.
Scrapbook material includes bound press clippings of reviews of his first published novel, Blind Mice (1921), and loose scrapbook materials (correspondence, pamphlets, and clippings) which relate to other Kay-Scott publications. Visual material includes a few family portraits, photographic portraits of Kay-Scott, including a caricature of Kay-Scott by Joseph Hecht, and photographs, postcards, and maps from trips to Africa and South America. The miscellaneous subseries contains a typed transcript of a seance, a reading of Kay-Scott's horoscope, and his passport.
Series II. Evelyn Scott, 1931-1987 (bulk 1951-1958 and 1983-1985), 3 boxes
This series is subdivided into four subseries: Creative Works, Correspondence, Evelyn Scott Fund, and David Arthur Callard Biographical Materials. The single creative work is an undated holograph draft of a review of Cyril Kay-Scott's Sinbad. Scott's outgoing correspondence (1932-1958) includes letters to Margaret DeSilver, treasurer of the Evelyn Scott Fund. Material relating exclusively to the Fund consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence with Margaret DeSilver, financial documents, notes, and solicitation flyers. Correspondents of note are Waldo Frank, Allen Tate, and John Metcalfe, although their letters concerning the Fund are routine.
Callard's material includes his research material, annotated typescripts, and assorted publication material for his biography of Evelyn Scott, Pretty Good for a Woman (1985). Half the material is incoming and outgoing correspondence concerning research for the book. It is kept primarily in his original order, which is predominantly chronological within mostly alphabetical groupings. Evelyn Scott's declining mental health is reflected in her FBI file obtained by Callard during his research. The file includes several photocopies of correspondence between Evelyn Scott and J. Edgar Hoover that display her paranoia regarding a conspiracy against John Metcalfe. Callard also collected Metcalfe's 1955 diary which contains reticent entries on his and Evelyn's lives during that year.
Series III. Scott Family Papers, 1931-1982 (bulk 1931-1936), 1 box
The third series comprises family correspondence, creative works, and printed material by and about members of the Scott family including Manly Wellman, a son from Cyril Kay-Scott's first marriage. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Creighton "Jigg" Scott, son of Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott, wrote the largest number of letters, while Manly Wellman received the most letters in this series. With the exception of one letter by John Metcalfe (1952), all correspondence is between August and November, 1934. The creative works are primarily copies of notes from and the manuscript of Creighton Scott's "Confessions of an American Boy." The majority of the printed material, much of which is undated, are newspaper and magazine clippings collected by Manly Wellman. Approximately two-thirds of these articles are by Cyril Kay-Scott, written mainly when he was director of the Denver Art Museum. The remaining third of the articles are written about Cyril Kay-Scott.
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Purchase, 1990 (R12227)
Mary Corbett, Mary Alice Harper, Rachel Howarth, and Elizabeth Lanthier-Welch, 1995, 1997
The Henry E. Turlington Collection of Cyril Kay-Scott and Evelyn Scott Materials--Folder List