Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Payne, L. mss., 1871-1972, are the papers of Lesley Payne, 1894?-1976, musician, and niece of James Whitcomb Riley. Her mother, Mary Elizabeth (Riley) Payne, 1864-1936, was a sister of the Hoosier Poet, who in 1876 presented to her a set of humorous sketches in ink with verses appended to the drawings. Her father, Frank Charles Payne, 1862-1947, a newspaperman, kept a diary while attending DePauw University between 1883-1886 in which he noted briefly that Riley had presented a lecture.

Schooled as a violinist, Miss Payne with her mother went to Europe in 1908 to study and remained until the outbreak of the European war. Some of her experience are recounted in an unpublished undated narrative entitled "Brittany Profile." Three of her European acquaintances, Vittorio Assale, Georges Dubois, and Augustin Wattebled, wrote to her in French and Italian of their activities as soldiers during the war, 1914-1918.

Interest in psychical research is brought out in Lesley Payne's letters from Hereward Carrington and Leonora (Simonds) Piper. A letter of Edmund Eitel to his Auntie Mame (Mary Elizabeth Riley Payne) on February 19, 1908, noted an attempt at thought transference.

Throughout the correspondence is a pervasive attention to the welfare of James Whitcomb Riley. Miss Payne while attending her uncle on a visit to Florida in March and April of 1915 sent chatty letters to her mother of her uncle's habits and the local social scene. Following Riley's death in 1916 she and her mothers were heirs with the Eitel cousins to the Riley estate. Both later wrote their reminiscences of the poet.

Correspondents include: Rowland C. Adams, George Ames Aldrich, Vittorio Assale, Sarah Joanna (Dennis) Balliett, Arthur Christopher Benson, Robert Hugh Benson, Albert Jeremiah Beveridge, William Keeney Bixby, Julian Bobbs, William Conrad Bobbs, Clara Louise Bottsford, George A. Buskirk, Hereward Carrington, Mary (Hartwell) Catherwood, David Laurance Chambers, Padraic Colum, James Lothian Daggett, John Marcus Dickey, Charles L. Dietz, Angela Diller, Leonidas Dodson, May (Winters) Donnan, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Georges Dubois, Max Ehrmann, Edmund Henry Eitel, Elva May (Riley) Eitel, Henry Eitel, John Huston Finley, Harvey Firari, Ian Forbes Robertson, Hamlin Garland, Leslie Garrison, Dorothy Gish, Lizzie Harris, Russell Allen Hartley, Paul G. Henderson, George Cooper Hitt, Magdalene (Nickum) Holstein, William A. Hough, Mabel Leigh Hunt, Louis James, John M. Judah, Jerome David Kern, Albert Kinross, W. C. Knox, Gaston Labat, Clara Elizabeth Laughlin, Louis Leon Ludlow, Elizabeth (Eitel) Miesse, Sherman Minton, Minnie Belle (Alexander) Mitchell, Meredith Nicholson, Guiomar Novaes, Fletcher A. Payne, Frank Charles Payne, Lesley Payne, Mary Elizabeth (Riley) Payne, Rachel (Mason) Peden, William Lyon Phelps, Eunice (Jameson) Peirce, Leonora Evelina (Simonds) Piper, Jean Fiora Preston, George W. Ray, Robert Franklin Reeves, Humboldt Alexander Riley, John Andrew Riley, Julia (Wilson) Riley, Reuben Alexander Riley, Norman Rockwell, Henry Frederick Schricker, Emma (Look) Scott, Frank Lebby Stanton, Rex Todhunder Stout, Roger G. Swearingen, Booth Tarkington, Susannah (Robinson) Tarkington, Jean Ten Have, James Thibaud, Alice (Marine) Thornberg, Hendrik Willem Van Loon, Arland Ussher, John William Vawter, Ola (Lackey) Vawter, Betty J. (Lawson) Walters, Augustin Wattebled, James M. Wells, Brand Whitlock, Blanche Young, Stanley Preston Young.

The collection is arranged in the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Biographical material; IV. Photographs; V. Printed; and, VI. Miscellaneous. An inventory of the collection is available.

Gift. Robert Russo, Hoosier Bookshop, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1977; Purchase. Hoosier Bookshop, Indianapolis, Indiana. 1984

Collection size: 951 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.