Valentine's Day in the Matthews Gazette

Fri, 02/10/2017 - 11:32am -- mfarias

Currently on display in the Delivery Room at the Redwood are some selections from the collection of T.S. Matthews, including the Matthews Gazette (1915-1917). Thomas Stanley Matthews was born in Cincinnati in 1901 to Paul Clement and Elsie (née Procter) Matthews. Paul Clement Matthews, the son of Stanley Matthews, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1881-1889, later served as the Episcopalian Bishop of New Jersey. His mother, Elsie Matthews, was born Elsie Procter, of the Procter & Gamble family. After the death of Matthews in 1991, his collection of several thousand books was sent to the Redwood from his estate in England. One of the most interesting pieces of the collection is from his own childhood. In 1915, the Matthews family began producing a bi-weekly, and later monthly, newsletter consisting of family news, poems, short stories, and family jokes written by various members of the Matthews family, mainly the children. The first issue is dated September 1, 1915 and begins with a stated hope for the success of this Matthews family paper, as written by one of the editors, “U. Kase.” The newsletters have been bound in three volumes, arranged in chronological order, and they continue until 1917. (Image shows T.S. Matthews at his desk at Time. Photo credit: princeton.edu.)


Photo of the Matthews Family taken from An Anniversary Poem by T.S. Matthews

T.S. Matthews was one of six children in the Matthews family. After his early literary start, he graduated from St. Paul’s School in Concord in 1919 and went on to graduate from Princeton in 1922 and New College at Oxford in 1925. After Oxford, he went to work for The New Republic in New York City where he befriended literary critic Edmund Wilson. He was encouraged to begin working for Time Magazine in 1928, shortly after the magazine’s founding, and he worked his way up the ranks until 1949 when he took over the position of Editor from the magazine’s creator, Henry R. Luce. Matthews held this post until 1953, when he left America for England for a freelance career, reviewing and writing books of his own. His younger sister, Dorothea Matthews Dooling, similarly went on to work as a writer. In 1976, she founded Parabola, a quarterly magazine out of Manhattan, which earned a reputation as a major journal exploring myth and ancient spiritual traditions. The other Matthews siblings were Charlotte Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Harriet, and Margaret who likely contributed to the Gazette as well.


As the Matthews Gazette was published monthly for much of its existence, a hand-drawn cover accompanied most editions. The two above were both used for the month of February and have a clear Valentine's heart theme. The first, with the red heart, was for February of 1915 and the second is from February of 1917. There was no cover for the month of February 1916. Some of the covers were more simple, like the one on the left, and others had more detailed drawings and colors, like the one on the right. Occasional editions even had smaller illustrations mixed in with the text, although those were more rare.



Each edition of the newsletter was filled with poems, stories, and family news. Often the poems and stories related to the season or holiday, or whatever held their interest at the time. In February 1917, there were two Valentine’s Day poems. One was written by “M. Matthews,” possibly Mary Ann or Margaret, and the other by “Y. Fore,” one of several names that could represent a real person, or more likely may just serve as a stand-in for another of the Matthews children. The poem above is entitled "St. Valentine's Postman" and the one below "To My Valentine." While the above is cute, the poem below sends a greeting more in the spirit of Valentine's Day. 


Happy Valentine's Day from the Matthews Family and the Redwood Library!