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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 by 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 Hoax (Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press, 1961).

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, USA.

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, 1914
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, 1931
Box 1, Folder 7 Bynner to Aunt Jean [Mrs. G.A.O. Ernst], Santa Fe, Sept. 23, 1935
Box 1, Folder 8 Bynner to “Mr. Roberts,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, April 17, 1939
Box 1, Folder 9 Bynner to “Mr. Roberts,” Chapala, Mexico, May 11, 1940
Box 1, Folder 10 Bynner to Roger [Ernst], Chapala, Mexico, May 30, 1945
Box 1, Folder 11 Bynner to Roger and Ruth [Ernst], New York, Nov. 29, 1947
Box 1, Folder 12 Bynner to Mr. and Mrs. Roger Ernst. Golfe-Juan, France [postcard] June 4, 1950

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 typesetter
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 edition
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 Bynner
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 Seeger

Series IV: Materials about Witter Bynner, 1913-1937

Box 1, Folder 28 “In Praise of Witter Bynner.” W.A. Norris, 1920 (typed manuscript)
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 brochure)
Box 1, Folder 32 Newspaper clippings, 1914-1937 and undated

Series V: Photographs of Witter Bynner, 1914-1922

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