Miss Marks and Miss Woolley

Alumnae started showing interest in Anna Mary Wells' book Miss Marks and Miss Woolley before it was even published.  

Summer 1976

Will the book about Miss Woolley include Miss Marks?

New York Times, August 1976

In an article entitled "Book Calling Ex-Holyoke Head a Lesbian Is Assailed," an editor at Houghton Mifflin quoted as saying "There has been a lot of unnecessary agitation. We have had a lot of letters from sort of hennish, clucking women who are upset about the idea."

Asbury Park (NJ) Press, November 1976

In an article entitled "Biography Shakes Up Mount Holyoke," author Anna Mary Wells is quoted as saying "I asked for reactions from my classmates. Some were openminded about it while others were really shocked, really horrified." The response surprised her, because while a student at Mount Holyoke from 1923-1926, "the fact was widespread... There was gossip around school, not about Miss Marks and Miss Woolley but about Miss Marks and students."

Winter 1977

Was Anna Mary Wells denied access to the Woolley papers in the Archives?

Book Review, Summer 1978

A book review that appeared in the Alumnae Quarterly by Alice Kimball Smith '28. Excerpt: "Anna Mary Wells commenced research for a biography of Mary Emma Woolley knowing that two points would require careful treatment - the close friendship with Jeannette Marks and the controversy over Miss Woolley's successor. When she examined the papers deposited at Mount Holyoke after Miss Marks died in 1964 she confronted problems that could not be glossed over by discreet phrases, for in the correspondence between the two friends she found 'ardent love letters expressed in terms that both shocked and embarrassed' her.

Summer 1978

A letter by an alumna: "Anna Wells has attempted an act that may help to end the violence against gay men and women in the United States. Her biography of Jeannette Marks and Mary Woolley is not something the College should wish to suppress and obscure, but something to be proud of and share with the world." 

Fall 1978

A letter by Anna Mary Wells ("sexuality was and still is a problem for intelligent women in our society, although a different kind of problem in different decades"), and two letters by alumnae supporting the book. 

Book Review, March 1979

A book review that appeared in The New England Quarterly. Excerpt: "Although she is unable to reach a definite answer, Wells tries to determine whether the relationship between Marks and Wooley involved explicit sexual relations. For lack of evidence in the letters between them, the question remains unanswered. Nevertheless, the strong power of these women over each other overrides the physical question." 

Spring 1980

A letter from an alumna supporting the book. 

Summer 1980

Anna Mary Wells responds to the Spring 1980 letter, in part: "we rose above the personal embarrassment the letters caused to recognize their permanent value to social historians."

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