Skip to Content
Special Home > Guide to the Witter Bynner Papers, 1905-1962

Guide to the Witter Bynner Papers, 1905-1962

Collection number: MC 9

Size: 1 box
(0.33 cu.ft.)

About Witter Bynner

Harold Witter Bynner was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1881, but at age 7 his family
moved to Brookline, Massachusetts after the death of his father. In 1898 he began
his studies at Harvard University where he served on the editorial board of the
Harvard Advocate (1900-1902). After graduating in
1902, Bynner worked for four years as associate editor of McClure’s Magazine before retreating from the pressures of the New York
literary world and devoting himself to writing. He rented a bedroom/study from his
college friend, sculptor Homer Saint-Gaudens and was a nine year resident of
Cornish, N.H.’s flourishing art community. Witter Bynner’s first book, An Ode to Harvard and Other Poems (1907), was only
mildly successful, but he went on to publish several plays and seventeen other
volumes of poetry over the course of his life. He is, however, perhaps best
remembered for the Spectra hoax* (1916), a spoof on literary “schools,” initiated
Bynner in conjunction with Arthur Davison Ficke. After leaving Cornish, Bynner was
elected President of the Poetry Society of America (1921-1923) and travelled
extensively in the Orient, where he became influenced by Chinese poetry. In fact,
The Jade Mountain (written with Kiang Kang-Hu,
1929), an anthology of T’ang Dynasty poems, is considered Bynner’s “greatest
contribution to twentieth- century literature.” Bynner spent the latter part of his
life in New Mexico. He died in 1968.

* see William Jay Smith. The Spectra
(Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press,

About the Witter Bynner papers

The Witter Bynner Collection contains correspondence (1905-1962), autographed
manuscripts, some published works by Bynner, and three photographs.

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], Witter Bynner Papers, 1905-1962, MC 9, Milne Special
Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH,

Acquisitions Information

Purchased: Multiple accessions, 1975-1980 (#7748; #7758; #7759; #7821; #7915;
#7916; #7923; #7951; #8026)

Collection Contents

Series I: Correspondence, 1905-1950

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1 Bynner to Lawrence Mott. New York, Feb. 25, 1905
Box 1, Folder 2 Bynner to Corbin. Chesham, N.H., Aug. 2, 1907
Box 1, Folder 3 Bynner to White. New York, July 12, 1910
Box 1, Folder 4 Bynner to Charles W. Eliot. Saybrook, CT, Sept. 5,
Box 1, Folder 5 Bynner to Brown. New York, June 12, 1927
Box 1, Folder 6 Bynner to Aunt Naomi, Miss C. N. Bynner. Chapala, Mexico
[postcard] Nov. 28,
Box 1, Folder 7 Bynner to Aunt Jean [Mrs. G.A.O. Ernst], Santa Fe, Sept. 23,
Box 1, Folder 8 Bynner to “Mr. Roberts,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 17,
Box 1, Folder 9 Bynner to “Mr. Roberts,” Chapala, Mexico, May 11,
Box 1, Folder 10 Bynner to Roger [Ernst], Chapala, Mexico, May 30,
Box 1, Folder 11 Bynner to Roger and Ruth [Ernst], New York, Nov. 29,
Box 1, Folder 12 Bynner to Mr. and Mrs. Roger Ernst. Golfe-Juan, France [postcard]
June 4,

Series II: Manuscripts, undated

Box 1, Folder 13 “Though You Would Follow.” Poem. “Copied for W. C. Goodson”

Box 1, Folder 14 “Traveler.” Poem. With corrections and instructions for
Box 1, Folder 15 “To Henry Ford.” Poem, initialled in pencil “WB”
Box 1, Folder 16 Pencilled list of 5 Bynner books

Series III: Publications, 1918-1962

Box 1, Folder 17 “A Canticle of Praise.” San Francisco, John Henry Nash, 1918.
First edition. Inscribed, “Naomi Bynner, with the deep love of her
nephew/Witter Bynner”
Box 1, Folder 18 “The New World.” Frontispiece by Ray F. Coyle. San Francisco,
John Henry Nash, 1919. Inscribed, “Roger/Witter Bynner/not reprinted but
reaffirmed in 1947”
Box 1, Folder 19 Pins For Wings [by Emanuel Morgan]. Caricatures by Ivan Opffer
and William Saphier. N.Y. Sunwise Turn, 1920. Inscribed by Bynner, “this
one is a rarity/by both E. Morgan and by me.” One of 200 copies. First
Box 1, Folder 20 “A Group of Poems by Li Po.” Broadside. Translated by Witter
Bynner and Kiang Kang-Hu, Signed by Bynner. Reprinted from Asia Magazine, February 1922
Box 1, Folder 21 “Wisteria,” broadside. San Francisco, 1923. Signed by
Box 1, Folder 22 The Borzoi, 1925. New York: Alfred
A. Knopf, 1925. Inscribed to Stuart P. Sherman by Alfred and Blanche
Knopf. Contains Bynner’s “Kahlil the Gibranite”
Box 1, Folder 23 “Roots.” N.Y., Random House, 1929. First edition. One of 475
numbered copies
Box 1, Folder 24 “Against The Cold.” With designs by Marguerite Jones Drewry.
N.Y., 1933. Inscribed “For Aunt Jane, Witter Bynner, Christmas, 1933.”
First edition. Borzoi Chapbook #5
Box 1, Folder 25 “Till We Watch the Last Low Star.” Printed sheet music. New York:
General Music Publishing Co., 1962. Poem by Witter Bynner, music by
Richard Owen
Box 1, Folder 26 “Spring.” n.p., n.d.
Box 1, Folder 27 Clippings of printed poems: “War,” “A Modern Game,” and “Two
Chinese Poems”
Map Drawer A6 “Anne.” Reproduction of painting by Anne Bremer. “Made for Albert
M. Bender by Ansel Easton Adams, Christmas, 1930.” Press of Johnck and

Series IV: Materials about Witter Bynner,

Box 1, Folder 28 “In Praise of Witter Bynner.” W.A. Norris, 1920 (typed
Box 1, Folder 29 “Sanctuary. A Bird Masque by Percy Mackaye…September 12, 1913.”
Cornish, N.H.: Meriden Bird Club, 1913. Heintzemann Press, Boston.
Bynner is cast as Stark, the plume hunter (program)
Box 1, Folder 30 “Witter Bynner: Poet, Dramatist, Lecturer. The Harvard Dramatic
Club Presents Its Fortieth Production, Cake,” (program)
Box 1, Folder 31 “The Works of Witter Bynner.” Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. with
holograph note: “Who’s Who tells the rest, W. B.” (publisher’s
Box 1, Folder 32 Newspaper clippings, 1914-1937 and undated

Series V: Photographs of Witter Bynner,

Box 1, Folder 33
Witter Bynner, 1914

“©L.J.S.”, 2.5 x 3.5 black and white. On accompanying envelope, “Dear
Aunt N. / The photograph is for Aunt F- (?). She wanted one, bless
her. You shall [sic] one presently and she a book. The last doctor
thinks I have appendicitis. But I am beginning to laugh at doctors.
Big love, H. Jan.14, 1914″

Witter Bynner, 1922

“Sante Fe, July 1922.” Inscribed: “For Aunt Naome,” 3.5 x 5.5, black
and white. c. 1961 “Inscribed for William W. Stewart Jr. by Witter
Bynner (1961).” 8 x 10 black and white