Wilson, Elena, 1906-1979

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Elena Wilson (1906-1979), was born in Reims, France. The family of her father, Georg Hermann Mumm, were founders of Mumm's Champagne. Her mother, Olga Struve, was born in Japan, where Elena's grandfather served as Russian ambassador. Elena Mumm emigrated to the United States in her twenties and worked as an editor for Town and Country during the 1930s-40s. She married American literary critic Edmund Wilson in 1946. After Edmund Wilson's death, she served as his literary executor and edited a collection of his correspondence, Letters on Literature and Politics (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977).

From the description of Elena Wilson papers, 1906-1979 (bulk 1972-1979). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702171935

Elena Wilson was born on August 27, 1906, in Reims, France. The family of her father, Georg Hermann Mumm, were founders of Mumm's Champagne. Her mother, Olga Struve, was born in Japan, where Elena's grandfather served as Russian ambassador. During her childhood and early adulthood, Elena Mumm lived in France, Germany, and Switzerland, spoke French, German, Russian, and English, was educated by private tutors, and studied art in Munich and Paris. In her twenties, she emigrated to the United States. She married James Thornton, a Canadian businessman, in 1931, and had a son, Henry H. M. Thornton, in 1932.

During the 1930s-40s, Elena and James Thornton lived in New York, and Elena worked as an editor for Town and Country . In 1945 she met Edmund Wilson, then married to writer Mary McCarthy. Edmund's short story "Glimpses of Wilbur Flick," part of his novel Memoirs of Hecate County, was published in Town and Country in 1946. Elena's relationship with Edmund deepened during 1946. In October they went to Nevada, obtained divorces, and were married in Reno on December 11. After their marriage, Elena Wilson left Town and Country and settled with Edmund in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. Their daughter Helen Miranda Wilson was born in 1948. In Wellfleet, and later in Edmund's ancestral home in Talcottville, New York, Elena was involved in literary and social circles and managed a large household including Helen, her son Henry, and Edmund's children from previous marriages, Rosalind and Reuel.

After Edmund's death in 1972, Elena acted as his literary executor. She edited a collection of his correspondence, Letters on Literature and Politics (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1977), and worked with Leon Edel, Simon Karlinsky, and other editors of Edmund's writings. She continued to live in Wellfleet, where she was active in political organizations, including the League of Women Voters and Amnesty International. Elena Wilson died in Wellfleet on July 27, 1979.

From the guide to the Elena Wilson papers, 1906-1979, 1972-1979, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aaron, Daniel, 1912- person
associatedWith Edel, Leon, 1907-1997. person
associatedWith Karlinsky, Simon. person
correspondedWith Levin, Harry, 1912-1994 person
associatedWith Mumm family. family
associatedWith Mumm family. family
associatedWith Nabokova, Vera. person
associatedWith Shawn, William. person
associatedWith Struve family. family
associatedWith Struve family. family
associatedWith Struve, Marie. person
associatedWith Thornton family. family
associatedWith Thornton family. family
associatedWith Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972. person
associatedWith Wilson, Helen Miranda, 1948- person
associatedWith Wilson, Reuel K., 1938- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Soviet Union
Talcottville (N.Y.)
Talcottville (N.Y.)
Soviet Union
Subject
American literature--20th century
Authors, American--20th century--Archives
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1906

Death 1979

English,

German

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SNAC ID: 27601499