Mentor and Friend

Violet Napier worked at the Morgan from 1925 to 1932 as a secretary and library assistant. After leaving the institution, Napier remained close friends with Greene and often brought her son to visit her former boss. Napier recalled her time at the Morgan in this note, remarking on the woman who helped shape her early career. The print of French painter Paul Helleu’s 1913 sketch of Greene, given to Napier as a wedding present, further reflects the lasting affection between mentor and mentee. The portrait, like most images of Greene, dates from her early days at the Morgan. She often turned down requests for photographs later in her career, explaining that the Library itself should remain the public focus.

Paul Helleu (1859–1927)
Portrait of Belle da Costa Greene [reproduction], 1913
Archives of the Morgan Library & Museum; ARC 3197

Violet Napier
Autograph note, 1977
Archives of the Morgan Library & Museum; ARC 3197.1