Lila Ross Tyng

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Lila Ross Tyng (Hotz)

Birthdate: (100)
Birthplace: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Death: March 31, 1999 (100)
Peapack and Gladstone, Somerset County, New Jersey, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Robert Schuttler Hotz, Sr. and Lila Frances Hotz
Ex-wife of Henry Robinson Luce and Sewell Tyng
Mother of Henry Robinson Luce, III and Peter Paul Luce

Managed by: Vance Barrett Mathis
Last Updated:

About Lila Ross Tyng

Preferred citation for publication:

Lila Hotz Luce Tyng Papers, 1899-1999; item description, dates. 2007-M161, box #, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. BIOGRAPHY

Lila Ross Hotz was born 26 March 1899 in Chicago to Lila Frances Ross/Hotz and Robert Schuttler Hotz, Sr. She attended Miss Spence’s School in New York City 1914-1918. The mother and daughter were extremely close. “Muddie,” as Lila called her mother, lived with Lila from about 1950 until her death in 1964. Lila’s father died young. When he was on his deathbed in the summer of 1918, the year she graduated from Spence, she came home and enrolled at the Moser school, learning the practical skills of typing and shorthand. After his death on 25 Aug 1918, she slowly stopped writing in the diary she had kept so exuberantly for years, and for three weeks it is blank. After her father’s death, her mother married Frederick T. Haskell. Lila married Henry Robinson Luce (HRL) on 22 December 1923; they were divorced in September 1935. They had two sons: Henry Luce, b. 28 April 1925, and Peter Paul Luce, b. 18 May 1929. During the marriage HRL was a founder of TIME and Fortune magazines. In 1935 HRL contracted to have a beautiful French-chateau style home built on a large estate in Gladstone, New Jersey. It was named Lu Shan – Chinese for “Luce Mountain” -- at the suggestion of HRL’s father, Henry Winters Luce, (HWL) who, with his wife Elizabeth Root Luce (ERL), spent many years in China. HRL apparently never lived at Lu Shan; he and Clare Boothe Brokaw married in November of 1935. For many years Lila’s habit was to spend the week in New York at her Park Avenue apartment and the weekend at Lu Shan, where her sons lived when they were not at boarding school. Lu Shan was not only an elegant home staffed to care for the family; for years it was a fully staffed working farm, as is witnessed by a newspaper article ca. 1940 on the extremely productive Lu Shan dairy cows. In 1939 Lila married Sewell Tyng, a staff attorney for then governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. They lived in Ecuador, where Tyng had business interests, for most of 1939-41. In 1943, she divorced Tyng, but she kept his name for the rest of her life. Lila lived primarily at Lu Shan in later years, maintaining her travels and social life and entertaining her many guests with elan and energy. Lila Tyng was a socialite; her time, energy and money went into the enjoyment of her own social life and into work for the benefit of others. A poet, a ballroom dancer, and a world traveler from her early years, she was always a great lover of life. With her irrepressible spirit, no matter what curves life threw her, she seemed to make a quick and buoyant recovery. In the twenty-eight boxes of correspondence, notes, poems and stories here, written over the span of eighty-five years, the most diligent searcher will be hard pressed to find a bitter or angry word. Lila Tyng maintained friendly relations with her ex-husbands. She even seems somehow to have accepted HRL’s dilemma when he fell for “the other woman,” Clare Boothe. HRL fulfilled his responsibility to her and the boys in the way that he could: by providing for them handsomely. Lila, for her part, maintained a great affection for HRL throughout his life (he died in 1967), corresponding with him and saving souvenirs of his astounding and repeated successes. He thanked her not long before his death for her consideration of CBL and for having “never fanned the flames of gossip.” Lila maintained cordial if limited communication with CBL, who died in 1987, and continued to admire and respect HRL’s memory until her own death in 1999. SCOPE AND CONTENT

The Lila Tyng papers include many autograph signatures (AS), signed hand-written letters (ALS) and signed typed letters (TLS). The nearly 100 folders of correspondence include telegrams in code and rare early picture postcards. There are consistently kept MS journals and diaries 1916-25, and many original MS and TS compositions – poems, plays, narratives, talks, and art works by Lila, HRL and others. There is abundant souvenir and rare printed matter including an oversize 1887 Chinese block print on fragile brown ‘tissue.’ Among the oldest and most intriguing manuscript documents are the 1843-1880 legal papers: indentures of early immigrants to landholders in Morris and Passaic counties in New Jersey. These are not from the Luce-Tyng families; they were probably found in an old building on the property where Lu Shan was built. They appear to attest to the indentured persons’ eventual success and wealth as landholders in the area. Most of the Lila Tyng papers date from 1843-1985; the full span is 1801-2000. The late-19th-century portrait photos were from Muddie’s family. The richest correspondence series is also one of the earliest: from Lila to Muddie when Lila was at the Spence school 1914-18, writing home to her mother in Chicago several times a week. For a close-up detailed picture of the lifestyle and habits of a high-spirited, bright, wealthy American girl during the WWI era in New York (and Chicago), this group of letters should be hard to top. There are letters to Lila from a number of what were then called “admirers” over the years, the most whimsical of which is a charming 1934 ALS from Teddy Roosevelt. Of interest, too, are the various letters, original compositions, documents, photos and rare printed matter from Henry Robinson Luce’s early career. These include 1916-30 business and financial records, 1917Army Artillery papers and, in 1925-26, letters to Lila when he has gone to Cleveland whence TIME magazine is being relocated. His letters are rich in details of the start-up phase of his first major magazine, with remarks like “Roy is working like a Trojan,” and other characterizations not quite so hearty. In Original Compositions ca. 1921-33 are poems he and Lila wrote one another. Boxes 29-33 were originally separated from the collection by Alan Brinkley during his work on a biography of Henry Robinson Luce. The boxes contain chiefly Luce family correspondence,1912-1948. The bulk of material is letters between Lila Hotz Luce and Henry Robinson Luce during the periods right before their marriage and a few years after. During their courtship in 1923, ‘Harry’ took his responsibilities earnestly; despite his involvement in starting up TIME, he tried get daily love letters to the Century – the train NYC to Chicago – or, when Lila was abroad, to the ship sailing that day. His letters often include heartfelt references, too, to TIME’s infant days. Lila was an avid supporter, gladly going to check billboard ads or to visit newsstands asking for “TIME -- the magazine, not the Times.” Letters to Henry Robinson Luce from his parents, Henry Winters Luce and Elizabeth Root Luce, are numerous. In addition to family correspondence is that from young Henry R. Luce to and from friends and business colleagues and prospects. A fascinating account of the details of the TIME inc. publishing empire is in a long letter from Roy Larsen to HRL, abroad in 1932. Finally there are original compositions and clippings. Carton 34 contains additional material returned in 2006 from Alan Brinkley, and are comprised chiefly of the correspondence between Lila Ross Hotz and ‘Harry’ Luce during their courtship 1921-23. The first letter from HRL is an apology to Miss Hotz for ‘running out without saying goodbye’, from the New Year’s Eve dance in Rome where they met. Soon after he has fully warmed to his task of frequent and romantic correspondent to the ebullient young Lila. She had more of his letters than of her own as is natural – but she is very well represented here as the spirited and devoted interlocutor and recipient. Name abbreviations in finding aid:

CBL = Clare Boothe (Brokaw) Luce ERL or Mother Luce = Elizabeth Root Luce, her mother-in-law HRL or “Harry” = Henry Robinson Luce, her husband 1923-35 HWL or Father Luce = Henry Winters Luce, her father-in-law LILA = Lila Ross Hotz/Luce/Tyng—Muff . “Lila” is used throughout. MUDDIE = Lila Frances Ross/Hotz/Haskell. Lila’s pet name for her mother is an abridgement of “Mother dear.” In her earliest letters from Spence school it is “Muddy.” (Frederick Haskell seems to have prevailed upon the women to convert to the more refined “ie” ending.) She also writes her as Carissima and Dearestissima. PPL = Peter Paul Luce, usually Peter Luce; in Lila’s letters, often, “darling.” Nicknames in correspondence:

Lila Ross Hotz/Luce/Tyng’s nicknames in correspondence with family and friends include Honey, Hun, Schatz, Tod, Toodles and Wutz or Wotz; Mud, Muddy, Imune, and Emunee. For about the last 50 years, Muff. In early correspondence with her mother, Lila is Honey, Hun or Tod; with her father it is Toodles or Tod, with her brother Robert, Wotz or Wutz. When her son Peter writes her from boarding school, it is to “Mud” or “Muddy,” “Imuné” or “Emunée”. Later her family decided on a name change, and from some time ca. 1950-60 she becomes and remains until her death “Muff” – pronounced Moof. She was Lila Luce as HRL’s wife; between husbands she used the name Mrs. Joseph Ross, although the Social Register approved the name Mrs. Ross Luce. After her divorce from Sewell Tyng, she used Lila Tyng for the rest of her life. Although they did not name their son Henry “III," HRL refers to his infant son in letters soon after Henry was born as “III” and “Henry III.” Usually the third Henry in the family was called Henry or Hank, distinguishing him from the two “Harrys.” Henry Winters Luce was Henry Robinson Luce’s father. Both HWL and HRL were known in adulthood as “Harry,” both most often signed letters that way. Elizabeth Root Luce, HRL’s mother, signs letters to friends and relations “ERL” or “B” or “Bess,” to Lila, “Mother Luce,” and to HRL, “Mother.” In her Line-a-Day diary 1921-25 Lila writes, “B—l” is HRL. Early correspondence from a “B—l” appears to be not from HRL but to him. Still, she may have used it as a code of her own. Several notations made late in life may be inaccurate. She notes, for example, that Sewell Tyng died in 1943, but there is a letter from him dated 1945; she identifies a letter clearly from one of her other admirers as from “HRL.” While her mind was clear, it was devoted to accuracy and willing to face truth; the few inaccurate late-life notes are thus fairly easy to spot.

Posted by Tom Luce of Bethel, Ohio

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Lila Ross Tyng's Timeline

March 26, 1899
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
April 28, 1925
Age 26
Manhattan, NY, USA
May 18, 1929
Age 30
March 31, 1999
Age 100
Peapack and Gladstone, Somerset County, New Jersey, United States