An heiress and New York socialite, at the age of 23  Alice Antoinette DeLamar became one of the most eligible unmarried women in America. Between her coming-out party at the Sherry-Netherland in 1915 and the sudden death of her mining magnate father three years later, newspapers from Kansas, Cleveland, and Chicago, as well New York’s own venerable columnist Cholly Knickerbocker, rushed to publish speculation as to whom Miss DeLamar would marry. But she failed to satisfy the tabloids and salon chatter, choosing to remain single, childless and a lesbian. While living under the public radar for the remainder of her 88 years, Alice nonetheless managed to become a significant, yet unsung patron and benefactor of notable artists, writers, actors, choreographers, and dancers, helping them flourish over an era spanning two World Wars and a Depression when resources were thin, uncertain yet much needed.

In the late 1970s friends had encouraged Alice to write the life story of her Dutch father who had been a child stowaway. Captain Joseph Raphael DeLamar had a backstory full of adventure – ship stowaway, harrowing ventures as a buccaneer, the pursuit of degrees in chemistry and metallurgy leading to prosperous mining ventures across The West, the construction of architecturally notable estates, and a lifestyle of excess amongst his neighbors the Morgans, the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts. In penning Joseph’s biography Alice integrated her own memoir but allegedly and rapidly the combined father/daughter manuscript disappeared into the discarded garbage bags.

I began searching for the manuscript after I discovered that a friend of Alice’s had salvaged what she could from the garbage bags over a series of nights in August 1983. Decades later she began dispersing bits and pieces of Alice’s belongings to devotees around the globe – those who were forever grateful for Alice’s generosity and friendship. Unlike many biographers, however, I haven’t had a formal literary estate to work with: no complete diaries, journals, photo albums or engagement calendars from which to reconstruct her life story. But thankfully Alice was a prolific letter writer. She produced multi-page legible handwritten letters recounting endless anecdotes of people’s lives, their foibles and affairs, cultural chatter about art, theatre, books, travel, and politics that provide an autobiographical lens onto her life and era.   I am a “headhunter” by professional trade, insatiably curious about people’s stories, adept at conducting research, tracking down sources, interviewing and writing.   I have made personal contact with the remaining sources with firsthand knowledge of Alice’s life, and I have amassed the first ever collection of photos, letters and video coverage that together finally tell Alice’s story.

13 thoughts on “About

  1. David Leavitt November 15, 2014 / 10:32 am

    I am a writer and professor of English at the University of Florida. Over the last few years I’ve been trying to learn more about Thad Lovett. Although best known as the lover of the French interior designer Jean-Michel Frank, Thad was also, as you know, a close friend of Alice DeLamar. In fact, when he returned to New York from Paris in the wake of the German occupation in June 1940, he gave her apartment in New York as his address.

    If you have a moment, might you be able to answer some questions for me about those remarkable photographs that you have posted of 1 Rue Git Le Coeur? I see that Thad is part of the group, as is Charles Lovatt, with whom he lived both in Paris and Rome. (Among other things, they formed the camera crew for Kenneth Anger’s experimental film EAUX D’ARTIFICE.) Am I correct that this photo dates from the early fifties?

    Thanks so much for maintaining this fantastically interesting blog and for your work on Alice DeLamar and her extraordinary legacy.

    Best regards,

    David Leavitt

  2. tiffany December 16, 2014 / 2:08 pm

    I have some more pics and info of Alice for u please email me at address above I have lost your ph number

  3. Shaz May 21, 2015 / 8:50 am

    There are a number of letters now posted in the betty parsons archives of her dealings with her longtime friend partner betty parsons.I wonder why all her art collection was auctioned off so quickly after her death and where all those paintings and money wound up?

    • The Manuscript Hunter May 23, 2015 / 4:04 pm

      Thanks for commenting on my blog. I appreciate it! I have a collection of invoices from paintings Betty sold to Alice and to one of Alice’s longtime friends. I’m still trying to find out how Alice and Betty first met. The specifics of these relationships are always difficult to untangle. Alice’s interest and investment in art was significant.

  4. Michael R. October 7, 2015 / 11:19 pm

    Please contact me. I have over a hundred letters written to Alice, her last address book, some photographs, and many handwritten pages of her memoir. Fifteen years ago I spoke with many of the same people you’ve talked to. My search was really based on researching a painter Alice supported and traveled with. I too, can’t quite mark the beginning of the Betty Parsons connection.

    • createsalem June 21, 2019 / 12:07 pm

      I am Thaddeus Lovett great niece by blood and would really love the letters from Alice can u possibly email me them or contact me please?

      • The Manuscript Hunter June 21, 2019 / 12:27 pm

        Hi Tiffany – I remember you. I’ll email you directly.
        Best regards,

  5. L.R. November 2, 2016 / 3:34 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing here. Have you come across any references to Lucia Davidova in Alice’s papers? If so, please contact me at the e-mail address provided. I am a historian based in New York.

  6. Eliza Brown February 1, 2017 / 8:04 pm

    Hello – I’m an old family friend of Jimmy’s, and haven’t seen him in 6 years. Can you help me locate him?

    • Nona K Footz August 19, 2018 / 3:42 pm

      Eliza – if you Google Jimmy’s name you’ll see he’s recently been in the news (unfortunately not ‘good news’)….

    • The Manuscript Hunter April 6, 2019 / 11:49 am

      Thanks for your note Carl….yes indeed it would! It’s quite an endeavor given dear Alice has been gone so long and her circle of friends is dwindling….

  7. ghenocoe August 12, 2019 / 12:50 pm


    This is all so fascinating. I am an art historian, based out of Austin, TX, and write (mostly) about Post-War American painting and sculpture. I’m trying to learn more about the art and life of Jean Jones Jackson (nee Jean Jones, aka Jean Watts), as well as her sisters Bettina and Anne, and their social milieu.

    I would be grateful for any biographical information, archival materials (letters, photos, etc), and general advice any of you may have on this matter. I have contact information for a distant JJJ relation (Anne’s granddaughter), but haven’t had a chance to follow up yet.

    I’d like to know more about the Alice De Lamar’s circle and the place Jean and her family played in Alice’s life. So far, I have unwound some wonderful and fascinating connections between Jean, Alice, and legendary art dealer and artist, Betty Parsons (Jean had a solo show at Parsons’s gallery in 1969), as well as Tibor de Nagy’s director John Bernard Myers, the poet James Merrill, and others. Most of my research has been centered on the betty parsons papers at the archives of american art, which has a rich set of correspondence between parsons, jackson, and delamar about jackson’s art, as well as their social lives extending between Paris, CT, Palm Beach, NYC, and long island. But I’m limited by my sample size, and I get intimations of a rich life beyond these letters, and wondering if y’all can help fill in some pieces.

    I’d be very grateful for any leads/resources you might have on Jean Jones Jackson and her relationship to Lamar, Parsons, and her circle. I’m keen on drawing more attention to these fascinating women, all of whom deserve greater recognition for their contributions to 20th century American culture.

    My best,
    Gilles Heno-Coe
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Art Historian
    PhD Candidate in Art History
    The University of Texas at Austin
    – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Recent publication:

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