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Special Home > Guide to the Robert P. Tristram Coffin Papers, 1910-1955

Guide to the Robert P. Tristram Coffin Papers, 1910-1955

Collection number: MC 46

Size: 6 boxes (2 cu.ft.)

About Robert Tristram Coffin

Robert P. Tristram Coffin (1892-1955) grew up in Brunswick, Maine on a “saltwater farm.” He attended Bowdoin, Princeton, and Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar before, as well as after, serving two years in World War I. He taught at Wells College in Aurora, New York from 1921-1934 and eventually returned to Bowdoin College, where he was Pierce Professor in English from 1934 until his death in 1955. Coffin was also associated with the University of New Hampshire as a founder and faculty member of the Towle Writer’s Conference.

Throughout his life, Robert Coffin successfully combined the roles of artist and teacher, poet and prose writer. He authored more than forty books, and was awarded many honors, including the 1936 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his book, Strange Holiness. In 1945, Coffin was elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters for “work of permanent value in American literature,” and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences granted him membership in 1949.

About the Robert Tristram Coffin Collection

The Robert Tristram Coffin Collection includes correspondence, poem and story manuscripts, etchings and sketches done by Coffin, photographs, a recording of Coffin reading his poetry, and various published materials. For more Coffin material, consult Bowdoin College‘s collection.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Robert Tristram Coffin Collection, 1915-1955, MC 46, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated: William B. and Mary S. Ewert, 1977-1986 (Accession numbers: 8659; 8556; 8237; 8144; 7618)

Purchased: Roberta Carr, Rare Books, Nov. 11, 1978 (Accession number: 7826)

Collection Contents

Series I: Correspondece

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Coffin to Alma Clark, 1916-1918
Box 1, Folder 2 Coffin to Alice M. Coffin, 1917-1919
Box 1, Folder 3 Coffin to “Marmie,” 1918-1919
Box 1, Folder 4 Correspondence with publishers, 1926-1941
Box 1, Folder 5 Coffin and George H. Morris, 1951-1954
Box 1, Folder 6 Coffin to George Roy Elliott, 1954
Box 1, Folder 7 Miscellaneous letters from Coffin, 1910, 1939, and 1951

Series II: Manuscripts

Box 1, Folder 8 Poems: “Another Lincoln,” “Apple-Jordan,” “Apples Harvested by Water,” “Ballad of a Grandfather,” and “A Barn Carol”
Box 1, Folder 9 Poems: “The Book of Snow,” “A Catalogue of Bright Things,” and “Country Church”
Box 1, Folder 10 Poems: “A Class Day Poem”
Box 1, Folder 11 Poems: “Dame Dark,” “The Drums of the Kennebec,” “The Fog,” “The Foot of Tucksport,” “Go to the Barn with a Lantern,” and “A House of Happiness”
Box 1, Folder 12 Poems: “The Housing of the Lambs”
Box 1, Folder 13 Poems: “Island of Apples,” “Lies,” “A Litany of Jewels,” “The Great Guns of Flanders,” “Nowell,” “Maine Ballads,” “Maine is Up or Down a Hill” and “Man Union”
Box 1, Folder 14 Poems: “The Miracle,” “Misery Hill,” “The Mormons,” “My Lady of the Cinnamon Roses,” “Poet’s Portrait,” and “Saint Hubert”
Box 1, Folder 15 Poems: “The Strange Children”
Box 1, Folder 16 Poems: “Strange Holiness”
Box 1, Folder 17 Poems: “Summer’s Sweetest at the Dargo,” “Tapestry of Nowell,” “Thank Little Boys,” “There Yet Survived a God,” and “Thomas S. Jones, Jr., Sonneteer of the Saints”
Box 1, Folder 18 Poems, “Tipsham Foreside”
Box 1, Folder 19 Poems: “Uncle Frank,” “When Northern Plays,” “Unfinished Symphony,” “The Weather Vane,” “Well Ordered Things,” “The Whales Song,” “The Little Boys of Texas,” and “Where I Took Hold of Life”
Box 1, Folder 20 Stories, “An American for a Father” and “New England Artist at the Stove”
Box 1, Folder 21 Speech, “Maine: A State of Grace,” Commencement Address, University of Maine, June 14, 1937
Box 1, Folder 22 Lectures, “My Experience with Poetry.” Bates College, Lectures 2-9 [see Box 6], July 10-15, 1939
Box 1, Folder 23 Short Story, “Wide Ears,” 1940

Series III: Art Work

Box 1, Folder 24 Pen and Ink Sketches
Box 1, Folder 25 Engravings
Box 1, Folder 26 Christmas Cards, 1927-1935
Box 1, Folder 27 Christmas Cards, 1936-1943

Series IV: Miscellaneous

Box 1, Folder 28 Notes and Newspaper Clippings
Box 1, Folder 29 Programs, 1922-1948
Box 1, Folder 30 “Pilgrimage to the Grave of Robert Peter Tristam Coffin”
Box 1, Folder 31 Recording, “Strange Holiness,” “The Fog,” and “Lantern in the Snow”
Box 1, Folder 32 Photographs

Series V: Printed Materials

Box 1, Folder 33 Material about Coffin, 1936-1955
Box 1, Folder 34 “Ashes and Sparks”, 1947
Box 1, Folder 35 “The Bowdoin Sun”
Box 1, Folder 36 “Church on the Hill”, 1935
Box 1, Folder 37 “Epithalamion for a Western World,” for the marriage of Mary-Alice Coffin and Vernon Charles Westcott, April 29, 1944, and “The First Christmas Tree,” [see Box 6]
Box 1, Folder 38 “Golden Falcon,” 1927
Box 1, Folder 39 “The Good End,”Bowdoin College Bulletin, June 1951
Box 1, Folder 40 “Gospel According to New England”
Box 1, Folder 41 “In Memoriam–Kenneth Clark Morton Sills,” Bowdoin College Bulletin, December, 1954
Box 1, Folder 42 “In Memoriam–Thomas S. Jones, Jr.”, 1935
Box 1, Folder 43 “Ivy Ode” or “Planting of the Ivy,” Bowdoin Orient, 1915
Box 1, Folder 44 Kennebec: Cradle of the Americans, specimen chapter, “Lambda Jubilee” [see Box 6], 1937
Box 1, Folder 45 “Maine: A State of Grace,” The Maine Bulletin, [see Box 6], June 14, 1937
Box 1, Folder 46 “The Poems that Write the Poet,” Haverford College lecture, “Puer Redemptor,” [see Box 6], March 24, 1953
Box 1, Folder 45 “The Sesquicentennial Poem,” Bowdoin College Bulletin, [see Box 6], August, 1944
Box 1, Folder 45 “Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart. (1759-1839) Admiral and Prophet”, Newcomen Society of North America, 1951; Strange Holiness, proof, MacMillan Co., [see Box 6], 1935
Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1 Appeared in The American Girl: “Rock Pool” (prose) (August 1934); “Well Ordered Things” (January 1935); “These Things Have Delighted Me” (July 1936); “The Thin World” (prose) (January 1937); “The Brooding Robin” (May 1937); “Coast Church” (July 1937); “Bad Winds Blow Some Good” (October 1940, 1934-1940
Box 2, Folder 2 Appeared in The American Mercury: “What Kind of People Are We?” (November 1943); “Second Boyhood” (July 1947, 1943-1947
Box 2, Folder 3 Appeared in The Atlantic: “February Hens” (March 1944); “Upstairs” (April 1944); “Holy Well” (October 1945), 1944-1945
Box 2, Folder 4 Appeared in The Atlantic: “A Godless Thing” (January 1946); “Afternoon with Goats” (May 1946); “Church on Water” (March 1947), 1946-1947
Box 2, Folder 5 Appeared in The Atlantic: “The Land the Old Ones Keep” (May 1952); “Thunder was Born in the Hay Yard” (September 1943), 1943-1952
Box 2, Folder 6 Appeared in The Bowdoin Quill “Spring Sketches” (May 1913) ;“Where the Lost Ships Go” (February 1914); “The Trailmakers” (March 1914); “Clothes-line Philosophy”; “The Song Thrush”; “The Master Instrument” (June 1914); “A Dream”; “To Lucretius”; “Indian Summer” (October 1914); “The Book of Huyles,” 1913-1914
Box 2, Folder 7 Appeared in The Bowdoin Quill: “For the Other Laddie”; “Hunter’s Song”; “Rheims” (December 1914);“The Book of Huyles”; “I Loved Thee, Atthis, Long Ago”; “The Pagan”; “Lament”; “The Night Riders”; “Ydgrasil”( January 1915); “My Little Ship” (February 1915); “Song of a Medieval Glassmaker”(April 1915), 1914-1915
Box 2, Folder 8 Appeared in The Bowdoin Quill: “The Lustre Pitcher”, (December 1934)
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1 Appeared in Commonweal/Cosmopolitan: “Singers in France” (Commonweal, April 1938);“Bequest”, (Cosmopolitan: April 1947), 1938-1947
Box 3, Folder 2 Appeared in Downeast: “Maine Winter,” (Winter 1955)
Box 3, Folder 3 Appeared in The Farm Journal: “Wide Ears” (May 1940); “We’ll Never Say Goodbye”(June 1942); “Addition to the Family” (prose) (March 1945) ; “After Frost” (November 1946); “This is the Map” (August 1947)1940-1947
Box 3, Folder 4 Appeared in Folio/The Magazine of the Year/Forum:“Three Folios of Indiana” (Folio, May 1941); “Gospel According to New England” (The Magazine of the Year, July 1947); “Apples by the Ocean” (Forum, July 1946); “Red Herring” (Forum, July 1946), 1941-1947
Box 3, Folder 5 Appeared in The Georgia Review:“The Armadillo,” (Summer 1955)
Box 3, Folder 6 Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Five Bare Boys” (October 1941); “Lost Son” (January 1944), 1941-1944
Box 3, Folder 7 Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Boys are Turned Out” (August 1946); “Boys Afire” (October 1947), 1946-1947
Box 3, Folder 8 Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Lost Room,” (December 1947)
Box 3, Folder 9 Appeared in Gourmet: “A Berry Good Time” (prose) (July 1943); “Abenaki: Clambake” (prose) (August 1943); “First Catch Your Eel” (prose) (September 1943); “Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (January 1953), 1943-1953
Box 4
Box 4, Folder 1 Appeared in Gourmet: “The Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (February, March and April 1953), march-April 1953
Box 4, Folder 2 Appeared in Gourmet: “Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (May, June, August, September, October, and November 1953), May-November 1953
Box 4, Folder 3 Appeared in Gourmet: “Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (December 1953); “The Snow Farm” (January, February – includes obituary, March and April 1955),1953-1955
Box 4, Folder 4 Appeared in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism: “Poetry Today and Tomorrow” (Vol. 3 no. 9-10) (prose)
Box 4, Folder 5 Appeared in The Library Lantern: publication of Hamilton-Smith Library of the University of New Hampshire: review of C.P., June 1939
Box 4, Folder 6 Appeared in Life Magazine: “Maine Winter Poems,(February 12, 1945) [see Box 6]
Box 4, Folder 7 Appeared in Murphy’s Tavern: “The Democratic-Republican Cheese,” (Summer 1946); “Unfinished Symphony.”
Box 4, Folder 8 Appeared in National Parent-Teacher: “Last Day” (prose) (June 1946); “The Prize Pumpkin: A Thanksgiving Story” (Nov. 1946); “Old Law” (December 1946); “The Tree” (February 1947); “Poet” (May 1947), 1946-1947
Box 4, Folder 9 Appeared in National Parent-Teacher: “Christmas Came in Fur” (December 1947); “For my First Grandson” (January 1948); “House of the Sky” (February 1948); “Coast Houses” (November 1951); “Youngest Friend” (April 1952), 1947-1952
Box 4, Folder 10 Appeared in National Parent-Teacher: “New England Stone Walls” (December 1952); “Always Youthful Things” (March 1954); “American Boy” (May 1954); “Little Boy’s Lost in Love” (September 1954); “The Cattle Kneel” (March 1955); “Man’s Book” (June 1955),1952-1955
Box 4, Folder 11 Appeared in The Near East/Yearbook of the New England Society/Newsweek: “Athens in Winter” (The Near East, December 1954); “Poetry as Part of my Life” Speech By Professor R.P.T. Coffin, Pierce Professor of English, Bowdoin College (reprinted Yearbook of the New England Society, 1937); Obituary (R.P.T. Coffin), 1937-1954
Box 4, Folder 12 Appeared in Old Farmer’s Almanac,1937-1939
Box 4, Folder 13 Appeared in The Peabody Reflector/Prologue; “The Revolutions in Modern Poetry” (January 1952); “Local Color in Modern Poetry”; “The Course in Creative Writing” (December 1947), 1947-1952
Box 5
Box 5, Folder 1 Appeared in Saturday Review: “Doubled Goods” (November 1948); “Tuna by Night” (March 1949); “Yellow-leg Plovers” (April 1949); “The Sun and Moon Stand Still” (April 1949), 1948-1949
Box 5, Folder 2 Appeared in Saturday Review: “I and the Other Poets” (July 22, 1950); “They Rowed, They Sang” (April 14, 1951); “Naked Night” (March 15, 1952); “Bald Eagle” (May 24, 1952), 1950-1952
Box 5, Folder 3 Appeared in Science Illustrated: “The Rainbow” (September 1944); “Terrible and Exact Geometrics” (January 1945), 1944-1945
Box 5, Folder 4 Appeared in The Southwest Review: “Granite’s a Model” (Summer 1945); “The Red Drummer” (Fall 1945); “Solitude” (Fall 1946), 1945
Box 5, Folder 5 Appeared in The Southwest Review: The Man Who Measured Out Music” (Spring 1946), 1946; “The Secret.”
Box 5, Folder 6 Appeared in Tomorrow: “My Favorite Forgotten Book” (prose) (September 1948); “Maine Enters Literature” (prose) (October 1948); “The House Leans” (November 1948); “This is the Poem” (December 1948), Sept.-Dec.1948
Box 5, Folder 7 Appeared in The Tuftonian: “The Fog” (June 1936); “This is My Country”; “Tipsham Foreside”; “Jug Below the Stairs” (November 1940); “The First Christmas Tree” (January 1942),1936-1942
Box 5, Folder 8 Appeared in Yankee:“Lesson Outdoors” (May 1947); “Red Robin” (May 1952), 1947-1952
Box 6
Box 6, Folder 1 Lectures 2-9, undated: “The Forest”; “The Ship”; “Country Things”; “The Seasons”; “The Farm I”; “The Farm II”; “Schoolhouse and Church” and “The Village”
Box 6, Folder 2 “The First Christmas Tree,” poem and print
Box 6, Folder 3 “Lambda Jubilee”; “Puer Redemptor”
Box 6, Folder 4 Press Release on “Maine: A State of Grace”
Box 6, Folder 5 Strange Holiness, proof, Macmillan Co., Feb.12, 1935
Box 6, Folder 6 Life: “Maine Winter,” Feb. 12, 1945