Thursday, February 2, 2012

Jewell Bothwell Tull (1889-1963)

Née Edith Jewell Bothwell
Author, Poet, Playwright
Born August 3, 1889, Yates Center, Kansas
Died June 1, 1963

Edith Jewell Bothwell Tull was born on August 3, 1889, in Yates Center, the seat of Woodson County, Kansas, and the Prairie Hay Capital of the World. As a child, she lived in Montana, then in Weiser, Idaho. At age twenty-two, she married (Clarence) Clyde Tull (1881-1968), later nicknamed "Toppy," an Indiana native recently removed to the University of Idaho, where he was an associate professor of English. Judging by Jewell's tender age (again, twenty-two), the date (June 13, 1912), and the place (Moscow, Idaho, the location of the university), I'm going to guess that she was a recent graduate of the University of Idaho who had caught the professor's eye. A newspaper account from 1939 confirms that he was indeed her English instructor. (1) However, Jewell had fallen ill in her senior year and did not complete her degree. Instead the couple made a year-long honeymoon trip to Europe. Thereafter Jewell Bothwell Tull followed her husband in his teaching career, first to Dakota Wesleyan College in 1913 and eventually to Cornell College, located in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Along the way, Prof. Tull taught at the University of New Mexico and Arizona State Teachers College. Jewell spent a year studying at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She, too, taught English at Cornell College and like her husband was devoted to her students and to their success.

As a writer, Jewell Bothwell Tull contributed to the The Husk, the Cornell English Club review, and The Ollapod, the college humor magazine. She also wrote poems, short stories, and serials published in the magazines PoetryThe Farmer's Wife, and Woman's World and anthologized in many hardbound books. Her lone work for Weird Tales was the poem "Ghosts," published in the issue of August 1930. She authored several plays, including "The Slacker" (in two acts, 1917),  "The Forgotten Man" (in two acts, 1934), "Children of the Inn," "The Magic Star," "The Gorilla," "The Woman in Red," "Her Son's Wife," and "They That Mourn," co-written with Iowa artist Grant Wood and published in Stage: The Magazine of After-Dark Entertainment in April 1936. Her books for children included Sylvia of the Stubbles (1923) and five adventure books for boys. Jewell was a widely admired and accomplished poet. Her friend Carl Sandburg said of her, "Jewell Tull's verse has wing whir and is as elusive as light." (2)

Jewell Tull died on June 1, 1963, but I would like to add one more item of interest to this all-too-brief story of her life. In about 1918, she and her husband welcomed into their home a Swedish-American orphan named Signi Linea Falk. Born in Chicago in 1906, Signi received degrees from Cornell College, the University of Hawaii (1933), and the University of Chicago (1948). After teaching at various institutions, Dr. Falk settled into a twenty-four-year career at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1947. She wrote two studies of other authors, Tennessee Williams (1962) and Archibald MacLeish (1966). Even after retiring in 1971, she remained active and lived almost a century, passing away in 1998. A final note: Tennessee Williams, aka Thomas Lanier Williams (1911-1983), of whom Dr. Falk wrote, also contributed to Weird Tales in 1928 with his story "The Vengeance of Nitocris."

Jewell Bothwell Tull's Poem in Weird Tales
"Ghosts" (Aug. 1930)

Further Reading
If you look hard enough, you can find information on Jewell Bothwell Tull and her family, Clarence Clyde Tull and Signi Linea Falk. You might start at the website of Coe College and its biography of Dr. Falk. Also of real interest, an article by Jack Magarrell, "It Began in 1920 with a Guitar and $100" in the Des Moines Register, October 31, 1965 (p. 94), about Carl Sandburg's first trip to Cornell College and the friendship between him and the teaching Tulls. 

(1) "Will Appear Before Woman's Club." Daily Times (Davenport, IA), Dec. 1. 1939, p. 13.

(2) Quoted in the previous source.

A page from the Royal Purple, the yearbook of Cornell College, from 1931. Don't be confused: Prof. Tull (pictured) is Clarence Clyde "Toppy" Tull. His wife, Jewell Bothwell Tull, though listed as a member of the staff, is not in the picture. Incidentally, Winifred Mayne, sitting in the middle of the front row, was the author of the novel I Am the Fox (1936), written under her married name, Winifred van Etten. Nama Lathe (1881-?) enjoyed a successful career as a teacher and artist. I believe some of the other people listed here rose to prominence as well.
Woman's World, October 1933, with Jewell Bothwell Tull's byline on the cover as author of the novel Forfeit. I hope someone can help with the artist's name.
Finally, the cover of Jewell's play "The Forgotten Man."

Revised August 30, 2018.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley


  1. TerHan: Edith Jewell Bothwell Tull b. 03 August 1889 d. 01 June 1963 but I don't know where until I get back to my computer. --RAE

  2. Thanks, Rae,

    I have added her death date to my posting. I'll wait to hear from you on the place.


  3. TerHan: Did you see the long obituary for Samuel Youd (John
    Christopher) who died recently. Also, the name Edith is from the 1900 Census of her parents, under Edith J. Bothwell. --RAE

  4. I'm so pleased to find this page. I was just reading some old letters that my mother wrote to her mother. One is from Nov. 5, 1951. My mother was in grad school at the time, at Univ. of Illinois, but had gotten her undergraduate degree at Cornell College in 1948. She writes:

    "I got Jewell's book and a note from Toppy -- short but very nice. In the front of Jewell's book I read 'To Betty Joliffe whose visits to the house of Tull we miss. Jewell Bothwell Tull.' "

    I don't know what book it was but she writes "it has some that were in the chap book 'The Seven Ages,' " so maybe it was a short story collection. Thanks for educating me on Jewell Bothwell Tull!

  5. Dear Sally,

    Thank you for writing and for the personal touches. These are the things that help animate a person's life story. I'm glad I could help.


  6. Jewell Bothwell Tull was my aunt. Clarence Clyde "Toppy" Tull was my uncle.

  7. Replies
    1. Dear Mr. Andringa,

      I accidentally deleted your comment in which you asked whether I have anything on Jewell Bothwell Tull's four-minute play "They That Mourn," co-written with Grant Wood. Well, I found mention of it and an image from the magazine Stage in the following source:

      Grant Wood: American Gothic and Other Fables by Barbara Haskell (Yale University Press, 2018, pp. 55-56)

      at this URL:

      Thanks for writing and I apologize for the mistake.