Naomi Burton Stone
Naomi Burton Stone became a close friend and remained so throughout the rest of Merton’s life. She was someone who thought highly of the man/monk and his work, but was not so enthralled as to shy away from offering criticism of both when she felt it was warranted. Like Merton she also wrote a spiritual autobiography (More Than Sentinels) which gives an account of her early life up to the point she enters the Catholic Church, an account that is more impressionistic than strictly linear narrative.
Naomi Burton Stone (1911-2004) having been born in England, came to New York City in the late 1930’s to work in the publishing industry. She met Thomas Merton before he entered the monastery when Merton brought her agency the texts of three early novels to see about the possibility of publication. Attempts to place these writings were unsuccessful, but years later from the monastery Merton sent Burton Stone a text of The Seven Storey Mountain … the rest is history.
Through a friendship that developed with Fr. Irenaeus Herscher, then Director of the Library at St. Bonaventure University and prominently mentioned in The Seven Storey Mountain, Naomi Burton Stone gave her papers to the University to add to the Merton materials that Fr. Irenaeus had already begun collecting.