Skip to main content
Use the right side menu to identify relevant boxes and place requests.

Cyrilly Abels papers

 Collection 0046-LIT

Cyrilly Abels (1903-1975) was the managing editor of Mademoiselle magazine from 1950 through the early 1960s, when she opened her own literary agency. Abels was literary agent, editor, and close friend of Katherine Anne Porter. The collection consists of letters, postcards, and notes to and from Porter concerning daily life and publishing efforts. Some of the correspondence is addressed to Jerome Weinstein, Abels's husband.


  • 1950-1975
  • Majority of material found within 1953-1968

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The papers of Cyrilly Abels consist of her correspondence with Katherine Anne Porter between 1950 and 1975. Some of the correspondence is addressed to Jerome Weinstein, Abels's husband. Most of the letters, notes, cards, and postcards were exchanged between 1953 to 1968. The correspondence concerns both professional and personal topics, including Porter's writing, financial matters, and tenure as a writer-in-residence at various institutions. There is also discussion of travel, gardening, fashion, and politics.


Cyrilly Abels (1903-1975), an intimate friend of Katherine Anne Porter, was a notable literary editor and agent. Her career began in 1924 after her graduation from Radcliffe College; she co-founded and was the first editor of a small publication called Creative Reading.

As the managing editor of Mademoiselle magazine from 1945 to 1960, she played a major role in transforming the publication from a fashion magazine for young women to an important medium for young and talented writers. In its pages she brought to a mass audience the writers Eldridge Cleaver, Truman Capote, Carson McCullers, James Baldwin, Hortense Calisher, Eugene lonesco, Flannery O'Connor, James Purdy, and Katherine Anne Porter.

After leaving Mademoiselle, Abels worked for two years as associate editor of The Reporter. Then, in 1962, she established her own literary agency. Her client list included Warren Hinckle, Zelda Popkin, Christina Stead, Francis Steegmuller, T. S. Mathews, Robert Scheer, and Katherine Anne Porter.

Her client Warren Hinckle (former publisher of Ramparts) wrote that Abels expanded "the traditional role of agent into that of combination editor and ombudsman." Her working relationship and close personal friendship with Katherine Anne Porter epitomizes Hinckle's characterization.

In 1950, Abels initiated a relationship with Porter that endured and deepened over a quarter century. Their nascent professional relationship as editor/agent and writer developed into an intimate friendship that lasted until Abels's death. Though often separated by Porter's peripatetic activities and brief periods of "seclusion," the two kept up a rich and diverse correspondence, interspersed with brief meetings. Their common devotion to writing brought them together, but they also shared interests in gardening and fashion—subjects on which they often expounded on at great length in their correspondence.

A passage from one of Porter's letters to Abels, dated November 3, 1961, illustrates her affection:

"The last news I had of you was just ten days ago. I am thinking about you, and wondering, and hoping, and wishing I could do something. But this is not worrying, not fretting and gnawing, it really is what the old Quakers used to call with great purity of feeling for the meaning of words, a Concern, a very continuous awareness of you, for your situation, of what you wish for and are trying to do, and just a plain old fashioned sympathy and friendship for you."

Abels and her husband, lawyer Jerome Weinstein, were childless. Cyrilly Abels died on November 14, 1975. At her death, she was survived by her two sisters, Jean and Muriel Abels.


The collection has been arranged in a single series.

  1. Series 1: Correspondence

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The estate of Cyrilly Abels donated her papers to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1976.

Related Material

Materials related to this collection can be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, Series I. This series includes correspondence from Cyrilly Abels to Porter and the carbon copies of Porter's typed letters to Abels. The John Graves Papers at the Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin, contain correspondence between Graves and Abels. Also, the Papers of Christina Stead at the National Library of Australia contain correspondence between Stead and Abels.

Processing Information

The papers of Cyrilly Abels were originally processed in December 1976. The collection was reprocessed in the summer of 1998. The materials were arranged in chronological order. All staples and metal paper clips were removed. Newspaper clippings were photocopied onto acid-free paper, and the originals were discarded. The letters were placed in acid-free folders and in an acid-free box.

Guide to the Cyrilly Abels papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742