Arthur Meeker Jr. Papers

Street Address: 
3030 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL

Meeker, Arthur, 1902-. Arthur Meeker Papers, ca. 1850-1972, bulk 1920-1945.
5 linear feet (11 boxes and oversize box)

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 Ave. In addition to Arthur, the Meekers had three daughters, Grace, Katherine and Mary.

The Meeker family’s first residence was also on Prairie Ave. 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 play-writing. 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 and Prairie 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 traveled 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 parents 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.

Call Number: Midwest MS Meeker
Finding Aids: Collection level catalog record
Inventory: Online

This collection primarily contains correspondence between Arthur Meeker, Jr. and his mother, Grace Murray Meeker, though other correspondence is present (including letters between Arthur and Poetry Magazine editor George Dillon).

In 1914, the Meeker family moved into a mansion at 3030 N. Lake Shore Dr. and lived there until financial troubles forced them to sell the house in 1925. Afterwards, the family lived in an apartment building at 1100 N. Lake Shore Dr.

Arthur Meeker Jr. traveled quite a bit and the correspondence in this collection comes from several different addresses, but the Meeker mansion at 3030 N. Lake Shore Dr. and the apartment at 1100 Lake Shore Dr. both figure into the letters between Arthur and his mother, Grace Murray Meeker.

Structure Type

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