By: Naida Treadway Patterson
Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton, born to a Boston family of wealth and social prominence and educated in the East and abroad, began her career as an artist in the early 1930s. After success as a watercolorist and muralist, she drew upon her skill as a designer and her love of needlework to produce, in 1940, an applique Bible Story quilt. This quilt was the genesis of more than fifty applique quilt designs, many of which illustrated classic children’s stories, that Marion produced under the copyrighted label, Story Book Quilts. During the years from 1940 to 1965 Marion Cheever Whiteside Newton established and operated a cottage industry which produced quilt kits and ready-made quilts. She also sold her patterns, including Pinocchio and Little Women, through such magazines as Ladies’ Home Journal and Good Housekeeping. A study of her work sheds light on quilt history in the decades preceding the current quilt revival.