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Margaret and Kenneth P. Landon Papers, 1824-2000

By The Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections Staff

Collection Overview

Title: Margaret and Kenneth P. Landon Papers, 1824-2000

Predominant Dates:1927-1990

ID: SC/038

Creator: Landon, Margaret (1903-1993)

Extent: 348.0 Boxes. More info below.

Arrangement: The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1990

Languages: English [eng]

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The papers of Kenneth P. and Margaret Landon present unique views into the life and culture of Southeast Asia. Margaret, best known for her work Anna and the King of Siam, and Kenneth, a Presbyterian missionary and later Southeast Asia specialist with the U.S. State Department, were both graduates of Wheaton College. Both exhibit distinct qualities that offer the researcher many opportunities.

The collection is organized into 12 series (Biography/Correspondence, Siam Missionary Correspondence, Publications, and Research, Government Service, Academic Activities, Literary Works, Photographs/Slides, Maps/Atlases, Audio, Secondary).

Includes secondary materials and correspondence of other missionaries to Thailand: Edna Cole, Rev. and Mrs. Stephen Matoon, Mary Frances Davenport and Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, as well as significant primary and secondary materials about King Mongkut of Siam and royal governess, Anna Leonowens, the subjects of Margaret Landon's novel, Anna and the King of Siam (1944) which provided the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical, The King and I. Audio recordings in the collection include 94 CDs of oral history interviews with Kenneth and Margaret Landon.

Biographical Note

Margaret Landon (September 7, 1903 – December 4, 1993) was an American writer who became famous for Anna and the King of Siam, her 1944 novel of the life of Anna Leonowens. Her book on Leonowens was published in 1944 and became an instant bestseller. It eventually sold over a million copies and was published in more than twenty languages. In 1950, Mrs. Landon sold the musical play rights to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammenstein II, who created the musical The King and I from her book. A later work, Never Dies the Dream, about her own experiences, appeared in 1949.

Born as Margaret Dorothea Mortenson to Anenus Duabus "A.D." and Adelle Mortensen in Somers, Wisconsin, she was one of three daughters in a devout Methodist family. The family moved to Evanston, Illinois, where she graduated from Evanston Township High School in 1921. She attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, graduating in 1925. She taught school for a year, then married Kenneth Landon, who she knew from Wheaton, and in 1927 they signed up as Presbyterian missionaries to Thailand. Between 1927-1937, in addition to having three children, Margaret Schoeherr, Carol Pearson, and William, while also running a mission school in Trang, Landon read extensively about the country. During her readings, she learned about Leonowens. When the family returned to America in 1937, she soon began writing articles and then began researching material for a book on Leonowens. The family moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942 when her husband joined the United States Department of State as an expert adviser on Southeast Asia. In 1947, Kenneth authored "Southeast Asia, Crossroad of Religion," subsequently reprinted in 1969 and 1974. He also wrote "The Chinese in Thailand" and "Siam in Transition." Her 4th child, Kenneth, Jr., was born in Washington, D.C. He followed the lead of his parents and took up writing about his own field of interest, releasing a weighty (904 pages) tome, "God of Glory: The Promise of Relationship" in 1992. Margaret Landon was married sixty-seven years. She died in Alexandria, Virginia, December 4, 1993, aged 90, leaving 13 grandchildren and twenty-five great grandchildren. One of her great grandchildren is also a writer. Mrs. Landon is interred in Wheaton Cemetery in Illinois.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: 198 linear feet

Access Restrictions: Major portions of Margaret's correspondence and a small portion of Kenneth's correspondence from 1927-1990 are restricted until 2010. Additional restricted material pertains to legal matters involving a lawsuit against 20th Century Fox. These legal files will open in 2010.

Use Restrictions: Duplication may be restricted if copying could cause damage to items. Materials may not be loaned out to family members or the general public.

Acquisition Source: Gift

Acquisition Method: The collection was received through personal donation in 1990.

Preferred Citation: Margaret and Kenneth Landon Papers (SC-38), Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, Illinois.

Other Note: The papers of Kenneth and Margaret Landon, graduates of Wheaton College, present unique views into the life and culture of Southeast Asia. Margaret was best known for her work Anna and the King of Siam, and Kenneth served as a Presbyterian missionary and later Southeast Asia specialist with the U.S. State Department. Includes secondary materials and correspondence of other missionaries to Thailand: Edna Cole, Rev. and Mrs. Stephen Matoon, Mary Frances Davenport and Dr. Dan Beach Bradley, as well as significant primary and secondary materials about King Mongkut of Siam and royal governess, Anna Leonowens, the subjects of Margaret Landon

Other URL: http://library.wheaton.edu


Box and Folder Listing