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Lillian de la Torre Papers, Ms 0346

Biographical Note

Lillian de la Torre was born Lillian de la Torre Bueno to parents of American, German and Spanish descent in New York City in 1902, the oldest of seven children. She attended the College of New Rochelle and received her A. B. in 1921. After teaching English in New York City high schools for several years, she began studies at Columbia University and received a Masters degree in English Literature in 1927. She studied German at the University of Munich in 1928 and, after her return to the U. S., resumed teaching and again entered a Masters program, this time at Harvard/Radcliffe. She received a second Masters degree in English Language in 1933.

De la Torre married George Sutherland McCue on July 2, 1932, while he too was pursuing a degree in English at Harvard. The couple moved to Colorado in June of 1935 due to George’s ill health and George continued his studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He was hired by Colorado College and joined the English Department in the fall of 1935 and de la Torre resumed her teaching career as a part-time instructor for Colorado College and the University of Colorado. She became involved in a local theater group, the Colorado Springs Civic Players, acting in and writing plays for more than thirty years. She collaborated with other Colorado College professors in scholarly research and publication in the field of 18th century English literature.

During the 1940s, de la Torre began her writing career in earnest. After a year’s absence in 1945, working as a technical advisor to 20th Century-Fox in Hollywood, she began to write mystery stories. The 1946 collection of Dr. Sam: Johnson stories was well received and her writing career flourished for the next forty years. She held board positions in national and local mystery writers’ organizations, notably the Mystery Writers of America, and was a regular contributor to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and the Armchair Detective. She contributed frequent book reviews to national publications, the New York Times and the New Republic, and to local newspapers.

Her writing resulted in numerous awards and wide-spread recognition: EQMM’s annual contest awards in 1947, 1950, 1952 and 1956; Mystery Writer’s of America honorable mention in 1955; Colorado Authors’ League “Top Hand” Award in 1953 and 1957; the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Medal of Distinction in the Fine Arts in 1980; and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Colorado College in 1987. Later in life, she became active in several local writers’ groups, especially the Colorado Springs Poetry Fellowship, and was frequently an award winner.

De la Torre’s life-long activities extended to other arts and cultural organizations. She was a founding member of the Colorado Springs Chorale in 1960 and performed with them until illness made it impossible in the early 1990s. She was an avid supporter of the Colorado Opera Festival and a member of the Colorado Historical Society and the Johnson-Boswell Society of the Pikes Peak Region. She kept up a lively correspondence with her brother, Theodore Torre-Bueno, and with numerous friends. Limericks and poetry occupied her when her career allowed time. She was a gourmet cook and an avid party-goer. After George’s death in 1985, she continued to pursue mystery writing, poetry and music until illness and disability slowed her down. She died on December 13, 1993.

Scope and Content

This collection contains Lillian de la Torre’s personal correspondence and biographical materials, including photographs, newspaper and magazine articles, family histories, early unpublished writing, scrapbooks and miscellany. There are also numerous materials relating to her writing career: manuscripts of plays, stories and novels, publicity materials, correspondence with agents and publishers, reviews of her work, photographs and various background materials. One box contains files related to de la Torre’s work with Professor Lewis Knapp on scholarly questions concerning the life of Tobias Smollett, particularly suspected forgeries of key letters.

Included are several boxes of materials belonging to her husband, George S. McCue: reprints of his newspaper column, “Notes Washed Up in a Bottle,” personal correspondence, sketches and drawings, several manuscripts and scrapbooks containing photographs and miscellany.

A note on the provenance and arrangement of the materials is necessary. De la Torre retained all of the above in files and boxes until her death. This collection went to her nephew, Jose Torre-Bueno, for his disposition. Earlier, de la Torre had donated a number of manuscripts and professional materials to the Harold B. Lee Collection in the library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Jose Torre-Bueno elected to donate the papers in his possession to Colorado College. De la Torre had also donated three manuscripts to Colorado College, “Phantom Rarities,” “Fiasco: A Farce of Literary Forgery,” and “The Pleasures of Histo-detection,” which were accessioned as MS 0171 in the Manuscripts and Papers Collection. That collection has been incorporated into the current one.

De la Torre had labeled many of the files according to subject matter and dates but many were simply labeled “reserve” and contained a miscellany of items and years. The original labeling of files and their contents has been retained as much as possible and the “reserve” files have been sorted according to subject matter and re-named accordingly. Because of the number of undated items, the chronology of the files is not inclusive of all materials and the general arrangement of the files is by subject matter rather than by date.

Works

Elizabeth Is Missing, Knopf, 1945
Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, Knopf, 1946
Villany Detected, D. Appleton, 1947
The 60-Minute Chef, co-authored with Carol Truax, Macmillan, 1947
“Good-bye, Miss Lizzie Borden,” W. H. Baker, 1948
The Heir of Douglas, Knopf, 1952
The White Rose of Stuart, T. Nelson, 1954
The Truth about Belle Gunness, Fawcett, 1955
The Actress, T. Nelson, 1957
The Detections of Dr. Sam: Johnson, Doubleday, 1960, 1962
The New 60-Minute Chef, 1975
Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, International Polygonics, 1983
The Detections of Dr. Sam: Johnson, International Polygonics, 1984
The Return of Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, International Polygonics, 1985
The Exploits of Dr. Sam: Johnson, Detector, International Polygonics, 1987
Numerous scholarly articles, book reviews, short stories, plays and poetry.

Box 1

Folder 1 Biographical information and notes, 1941-1973
Folder 2 Biographical information and notes, 1974-1988
Folder 3 Biographical information and notes, undated
Folder 4 Biographical information, clippings, 1932-1983
Folder 5 Correspondence with George McCue,. ca. 1945
Folder 6 Notes and poems for George McCue, undated
Folder 7 Correspondence on 50th wedding anniversary, 1981-1982
Folder 8 Correspondence on Evans School, 1985
Folder 9 Correspondence with family, 1937-1990 and undated
Folder 10 Correspondence with Theodore Torre-Bueno, 1945-1990 and undated
Folder 11 Correspondence with friends, 1945-1980 and undated
Folder 12 Correspondence with MacCorquodales, 1967-1985 and undated

Box 2

Folder 13 Correspondence on Medal of Distinction, 1980
Folder 14 Correspondence on Juan de la Torre family plaque, 1988-1990
Folder 15 Correspondence on death of George McCue, 1985
Folder 16 Correspondence on death of George McCue, 1985
Folder 17 Notes from friends, 1989-1992
Folder 18 Correspondence on death of Theodore Torre-Bueno, 1991
Folder 19 Correspondence with Ruth Rouss, ca. 1989
Folder 20 Clippings of personal interest

Box 3

Folder 21 Christmas Cards sent by LDLT and GSM, undated
Folder 22 Amusements – “UR University” and parties, undated
Folder 23 Amusements – Limericks, undated
Folder 24 Amusements – Party games, undated
Folder 25 Hanya Holm profile, 1980
Folder 26 Colorado Opera Festival Programs, 1990 and 1991
Folder 27 Colorado Springs Chorale Programs, Notes, Publicity, 1954-1987
Folder 28 Poetry Fellowship Correspondence, Minutes, Notes, 1980-1989 and undated
Folder 29 Poetry Fellowship Assignments, 1978-1991 and undated
Folder 30 Poems submitted to Poetry Fellowship, 1919-1989 and undated

Box 4

Folder 31 Correspondence with agents and publishers, 1947-1987 and undated
Folder 32 Correspondence with Eleanor Sullivan of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, 1980-90
Folder 33 Mystery Writers of America materials, 1978-1980 and undated
Folder 34 MLA Style Sheet, 1962
Folder 35 Book reviews by LDLT, 1951-1969 and undated
Folder 36 Clippings on mystery and crime subjects
Folder 37 Notes and correspondence on “The Black Stone of Dr. Dee”
Folder 38 Notes on Shakespeare Jubilee
Folder 39 Notes on cryptography
Folder 40 Miscellaneous clippings and materials related to writing
Folder 41 Arthur G. Rippey Catalog, Aug. 1975
Folder 42 Belltower agreement, 1991

Box 5

Folder 43 Announcements, reviews, programs, 1945-1988 and undated
Folder 44 Records, recognitions, awards, 1902-1988 and undated
Folder 45 Honorary Degree, Doctor of Human Letters, Colorado College, 1987
Folder 46 Reprints of articles by LDLT
Folder 47 Miscellaneous writing by LDLT and others
Folder 48 Mystery Writer’s Calendars, 1976, 1986, 1987
Folder 49 Reviews, programs, posters for plays, 1948-1987 and undated
Folder 50 Publicity photos for “Sally Cathleen”
Folder 51 Publicity photos for “The Coffee Cup”
Folder 52 Publicity photos for “The Madwoman of Chaillot”
Folder 53 Publicity photos for “Great Big Doorstep”
Folder 54 Publicity photos for “The Corn is Green”

Box 6 Plays

Folder 55 “Christmas for Pickwick”
Folder 56 “Day in the Sun”
Folder 57 “Good-bye Miss Lizzie Borden”
Folder 58 “King David, a Symphonic Psalm”
Folder 59 “Remember Constance Kent”
Folder 60 “Take a Trip with Chip” (Episodes 1 and 6)
Folder 61 “The Arapahoe Sheriff’s First Case”
Folder 62 “The Carol Carol”
Folder 63 “The Coffee Cup”
Folder 64 “The Inn”
Folder 65 “The Proposal”
Folder 66 “The Verdict”
Folder 67 “Women Don’t Hang”
Folder 68 Untitled and incomplete plays

Box 7 Lillian de la Torre – Prose

Folder 69 Early prose
Folder 70 “The Arapahoe Sheriff’s First Case”
Folder 71 “The Taster” and correspondence with father, J. R. de la Torre Bueno
Folder 72 “The Highwayman’s Hostage”
Folder 73 “The Adventure of the Persistent Marksman”
Folder 74 “The Exorcism”
Folder 75 “The Trunk” screenplay
Folder 76 “The Perfect Murder”
Folder 77 “The Lost Vitamin”
Folder 78 “The Lost Vitamin” cont.
Folder 79 Speeches
Folder 80 Miscellaneous prose

Box 8 Collected poetry

Box 9 “The Annesley Trials” manuscript

Box 10 Lewis Knapp

Folder 81 Correspondence regarding Tobias Smollett portraits, 1948-1977
Folder 82 Notes and correspondence regarding Smollett portraits, undated
Folder 83 Handlist of Smollett portraits and related articles, undated
Folder 84 Reprints of Smollett articles and “Phantom Rarities: A Cordasco Bibliography”; Bound volume, “Fiasco: A Farce of Literary Forgery”

Box 11

Folder 85 Family history – Jose Rollin de la Torre Bueno, 1871-1948
Folder 86 Family history – Evelyn de la Torre Bueno, Short Autobiography, 1968
Folder 87 Family history – Theodore de la Torre Bueno, 2 accounts
Folder 88 Family history – Sophie Weishaar, “Some Notes on Gottlieb Reinhardt, 1966
Folder 89 Family history – R. B. Reinhardt, “My Biography,” 1929
Folder 90 Family history – George James, “Something in the Reminiscent Line,” 1894
Folder 91 Family history – Lillian Reinhardt de la Torre Bueno, “Nothing In It,” 1935 and
“The House of Refuge,” 1944; memorial speech by Theodore de la Torre Bueno (?)
Folder 92 Family history – “Grandmother’s Book,” undated
Folder 93 Family history – Theodore de la Torre Bueno, “The Conquistador,” 1989
Folder 94 Family history – Theodore de la Torre Bueno, “Conquer and Repent,” 1991
Folder 95 Genealogy – Records of Lillian Sarah de la Torre Bueno
Folder 96 Genealogy – Records of the Roberts Family

Box 12 George S. McCue

Folder 97 Biographical notes and articles
Folder 98 Correspondence, notes, sketches – GSM to LDLT, undated
Folder 99 Correspondence and miscellany
Folder 100 Manuscripts of speeches, 1946-1964 and undated
Folder 101 Miscellaneous articles and essays, undated
Folder 102 Photocopies of newspapers columns, 1953-1958
Folder 103 Pamphlet, “Notes Washed Up in a Bottle,” 1967
Folder 104 Photocopies of background sources for coffee house study
Folder 105 Articles by GSM in “Ninety-eight. Six,” undated

Box 13 George S. McCue Scrapbooks

Box 14 George S. McCue Scrapbooks

Box 15 Handwritten Notes and Photographs

Box 16 Scrapbooks

Box 17 Scrapbooks

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