Later she looked from her bedroom window and observed that "the night sky was a glory - thick with stars. Nay, nay, not yet, Except by carefully calendared years, - For I have this bird-haunted, tree-shaded garden To work in, read books in, drink tea in, To dream dreams in - To remember - forget! She lay in the garden overnight, with Bon-bon as companion, until a neighbor found her.
Miss Percival spent her final days in a Pasadena rest home, in a pleasant room filled with books and flowers. Her ashes were buried on a hillside at Forest Lawn, next to the grave of actress Alia Nazimova, whom she had once compared to some wonderful and oversweet fiower, like tuberoses or datura.
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On her seventy-second birthday Miss Percival had written out her will. To landscape architect Charles Gibbs Adams, for example, she left her best potted daphne and Ellen Will- mot's magnum opus. The Genus Rosa. To Jack Masse, in sentimental remembrance of pleasant times together, she left, among many other things, her favorite fireside chair and a William Wendt painting and sketch of the Down-hyl Claim.
All her real property she left to her devoted friends Alice Gibbs and Florence Moore Kreider, whom she named as executors. To Scripps went an exuberant collection of dolls and doll furniture, paper dolls, miniature toys, textiles, hats, costumes, valentines, and daguerreotypes. Miss Percival felt a special bond with Scripps, not only because it was a woman's college but because one of the original trustees was Margaret Brewer Fowler, who had been her warm and generous friend.
In drawing up her will. Miss Percival did not forget herself. She instructed that the books be printed, simply but well, by Ward Ritchie. They are charming little volumes, pleasant to the hand and eye. Paul Howard, of Los Angeles, to grow a Rose to be named for me. An Olive Percival Rose was planted at the White House, and it also was chosen to honor the teachers of America; but it did not succeed commer- cially.
The answer lies in three prestigious libraries, each with a Percival Collection. The collection inherited by Scripps, with its joyful abundance of dolls and doll clothes, paper dolls, and little toys, inspires a holiday exhibit held every four years at Christmas time. It is a fitting tribute to someone who once declared, "I love being a Christmas-keeper! Miss Pcrcival's own bookplates plus those she designed for friends , and hundreds of her handmade book- marks. Nearly three-fourths of the books are British imprints, and many have historic and biblio- graphic information written on the flyleaves in Miss Percival's small, neat hand.
The collection includes ABC books, spellers, primers, chapbooks, nursery rhymes, natural histories, and treatises on manners and morals. Absent, however, are Miss Percival's beloved Kate Greenaways, for these were not of- fered to the university. Powell acquired the books at the bargain price of a thousand dollars from Ernest Dawson, who bought Miss Percival's library after her death. Many of her books in the two UCLA libraries still wear the hand-lettered jackets that she fondly made for them.
As she once explained, after covering some volumes with bits of wallpaper and Italian blockprint paper, "The poor little books looked so shabby and forlorn and were falling to pieces. Books are not inanimate things! The originals are at the Huntington. Lawrence Clark Powell, who had the transcript made, once considered editing the diaries, but they are as yet unpublished. Sometimes the diaries serve as a kind of Baedeker to downtown Los Angeles - suggesting, for example, where to shop for fancy groceries, have a pleasant luncheon, or enjoy afternoon tea.
In addition the diaries take note of changing mores, such as the first dinner party at which Miss Percival saw women smoking. It was in , at the home of Southwest Museum director Hector Alliot. The diaries also refer for the most part with disapproval to a changing cityscape. When a new museum opened in Exposition Park in , Miss Percival described it as an ugly building on a wretched site.
When the new central library, designed by Bertram Goodhue, opened downtown in , she lamented that it had little beauty and insufficient light. When Bullocks Wilshire opened for business in , she thought the Art Deco building was interesting but not charming. In she visited "the new and wondered-about Hotel Ambassador" and declared it "over-advertised, as all California achievements arc!
Shops were sweet but the furnishings of the hotel proper seemed both scant and mediocre. And not a tub of Lilacs, Roses, Lilies on the staircases and along the corridors as are seen in Eastern hotels. The diaries give fascinating glimpses of artists, actors, writers, society leaders, and career women who played a role in the intellectual life of Los Angeles from the turn of the century until the s. Above all the diaries portray a woman who resolutely created for herself a world of beauty that helped compensate for thirty years of uncongenial work and much personal unhappiness.
She found beauty in nature, books, and art. The shadow of sycamore branches by moonlight resem- bling an old Japanese stencil gave her as much sensual delight as a vellum binding or a raku jar. In her quest for beauty she became a passionate collector of exquisite things and a con- noisseur of Oriental art.
She was also a respected bibliophile, an inspired gardener, and a celebrated hostess. Not a great artist, she nevertheless showed talent as a poet, a photo- grapher, and a creator of paper whimsies. Despite her accomplishments, a sense of failure haunted her. She destroyed many of the volumes, but those that survive give valuable insights into an era and into a remarkable woman.
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Praise usually embarrassed her, but Olive Percival cherished the words of an admiring friend who said, "You are a wonder to me with that quiet tenacious sense of beauty fostered in the crudest town in all the U. When you are dead, my lady, others yet unborn, toiling and beauty-hungry women will know of you and learn 1 17 something of the secret.
Huntington Library, San Marino. Unless otherwise indicated, all manuscript citations are from material in the Huntington. Percival, "For the 75th anniversary of Sheffield Church," November 3, Diary, May 17, Diary, June 30, Diary, February 9, Diary, May 9, Mexico City Herald, March 31, The diaries are never complimentary to Lummis, whom Miss Percival characterized as a poseur and tippler.
She had unbounded admiration, however, for his first wife, Dorothea Rhodes Lummis Moore. Diary, June 14, She married Congregational minister and author Charles Edwin Chase in Diary, October 21, Diary, September 7, Diary, September 14, Diary, December 7, 1. In addition to writing about the Western desert, Mrs. Strobridge established the Artemisia Bindery "At the Sign of the Sagebrush" on the Arroyo Seco, published local authors, and exhibited the work of local artists. She and Olive Percival shared an interest in genealogy. Diary, January 25, Travel diary, March 3, Over a period of forty years Miss Percival kept almost all of the club's program notices, pasting them neatly into scrapbooks and sometimes adding comments on the speakers or rating them with hearts or zeros.
Diary, April 8, 1. The exhibit featured two thousand bookplates, including seven of her own designs. Travel diary, February 24, Diary, May 14, On October 10, , iht Los Angeles Times had predicted that woman suffrage would unsex society, destroy the home, and place an intolerable burden on women. Diary, October 30, Diary, January 13, Diary, February 28, Diary, July 12, Diary, July 7, Diary, January 29, Diary, September 6, Diary, December 13, Diary, December 21, Diary, May 2, Diary, June 26, Diary, May 19, Diary, January 21, Homer P.
Earle, " W. Diary, June 23, Diary, February 20, Diary, April 21, Diary, December 5, Diary, December 19, Diary, October 10, Diary, June 5, Diary, October 15, Diary, February 13, Diary, January 27, Diary, May 22, Diary, April 8, Garden diary, February 25, Diary, July 28, Diary, August 25, Percival, "The Children's Garden Book," pp. Diary, March 8, Diary, December 8, Garden diary, November 15, Diary, October 17, Diary, March 27, Diary, March 28, Planner, HM Diary, March 11, Diary, October 3, Museum catalog for exhibit December 7, February 29, , p. Stokes, Diary, February 7, Diary, February 18, Diary, June 15, Diary, June 6, Diary, October 29, Diary, September 19, Diary, October 1, Diary, August 20, Diary, June 2, Olive Percival to Norman Bridge, December 27, Miss Percival hoped for an advance from Bridge, who once told her to let him know if she could not find a publisher.
In he asked Miss Percival to lend some porcelain to the museum, but she thought the galleries were too poorly lighted for a satisfactory exhibit. Diary, April 15, Diary, November 8, Diary, November 23, Diary, March 4, Diary, January 30, Diary, July 11, Diary, January 23, The book was Semi-Tropical California by Benjamin Cummings Truman, author, editor, publisher, booster, and bon vivant. Diary, April 19, Diary, June 3, Diary, October 5, Diary, December 2, Diary, May 6, Diary, October 16, Diary, October 18, Percival, "Anodyne," Yellowing hy, p.
Margaret Fowler was the widow of wealthy lumberman Eldridge M. Fowler, who died in Fowler initiated the practice of making Delia Robbia wreaths ornamented with seed pods and other plant materials, and selling them to benefit the school. Last Will and Testament, July 1, Diary, May 26, Diary, November 28, For more about the collection, see Robert R.
Bowker, , pp. Diary, February 26, The Baker Block was demolished to make way for the Hollywood Freeway. Altadena architect Dwight Gibbs helped design the interior of the Pasadena Playhouse.
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For twenty years he and his wife Alice were among Miss Percival's closest friends. Diary, June 25, Fay Coughlin, quoted in Diary, April 6, Di Biase, Linda Popp.
Planner, Hildegarde. Santa Barbara: John Daniel, , pp. Hertel, Robert R. Powell, Lawrence Clark. Cambridge: Printed at the Riverside Press, Chicago: Herbert Stone and Company, Our Old-fashioned Flowers. In addition, a series of pages presented on the wall are the result of studio improvisations with a limited set of images. Found elements and odd gifts were the starting point for the pages; color is a crucial component as well. The combined works are meditations on the spoken and written word, the way materials communicate meaning, and the attraction of discarded objects in a world full of things.
Her poetry chapbook Moonviewing Floating Wolf Quarterly 7 was released in A full schedule of exhibitions can be viewed at www. Long A. Milne A. Clark A. McMahon A. Cousins A. Cowper A. Coldiron A. Housman A. Morris A. Maran A. Macdonell A.
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