Robert P. Tristram Coffin Papers, 1910-1955

Collection number: MC 46
Size: 7 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 1: Correspondence

Box 1
Box 1, Folder 1Coffin to Alma Clark, 1916-1918
Box 1, Folder 2Coffin to Alice M. Coffin, 1917-1919
Box 1, Folder 3Coffin to “Marmie,” 1918-1919
Box 1, Folder 4Correspondence with publishers, 1926-1941
Box 1, Folder 5Coffin and George H. Morris, 1951-1954
Box 1, Folder 6Coffin to George Roy Elliott, 1954
Box 1, Folder 7Coffin to Andrew and Alice Pennell, 1916-1954
Box 1, Folder 8Miscellaneous letters from Coffin, 1910, 1939, and 1951

Series 2: Manuscripts

Box 1, Folder 9Poems: “Another Lincoln,” “Apple-Jordan,” “Apples Harvested by Water,” “Ballad of a Grandfather,” and “A Barn Carol”
Box 1, Folder 10Poems: “The Book of Snow,” “A Catalogue of Bright Things,” and “Country Church”
Box 1, Folder 11Poems: “A Class Day Poem”
Box 1, Folder 12Poems: “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 13Poems: “The Housing of the Lambs”
Box 1, Folder 14Poems: “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 15Poems: “The Miracle,” “Misery Hill,” “The Mormons,” “My Lady of the Cinnamon Roses,” “Poet’s Portrait,” and “Saint Hubert”
Box 1, Folder 15Poems: “The Strange Children”
Box 1, Folder 17Poems: “Strange Holiness”
Box 1, Folder 18Poems: “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 19Poems, “Tipsham Foreside”
Box 1, Folder 20Poems: “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 20Stories, “An American for a Father” and “New England Artist at the Stove”
Box 1, Folder 21Assorted Poems
Box 1, Folder 22Assorted Poems
Box 1, Folder 23Assorted Poems: typed and signed
Box 1, Folder 24Prose: "An American for a Father" and "New England Artist at the Stove
Box 1, Folder 25Prose: "Wide Ears, 1940
Box 1, Folder 26Prose: "The Art of Reading Young" includes manuscript,typed copy and illustrations
Box 1, Folder 27Prose: "Snow Farm I& II" includes manuscript, typed copy and illustrations
Box 1, Folder 28Prose: "Christmas in Paradise," includes manuscript, typed copy and illustrations
Box 1, Folder 29Prose: "Playthings that are Free," includes manuscript, typed copy and illustrations
Box 1, Folder 30Prose: "The Rock Pool," includes manuscript, typed copy and illustrations
Box 1, Folder 31Prose: "If England is Blotted Out," includes manuscript, typed copy
Box 1, Folder 32Prose: "Pioneer Impulse," includes manuscript, typed copy
Box 1, Folder 33Prose: "Preface to J.J. Lankes," and "His Gray's Elegy," includes manuscript, typed copy
Box 1, Folder 34Prose: "The Thin World" includes manuscript, typed copy
Box 1, Folder 35Prose: "White Port of the Future," and "Wild World," includes manuscript, typed copy
Box 1, Folder 36College Bluebook containing "Sir Isaac Coffin, Baronet, Admiral and Prophet"
Box 1, Folder 37College Bluebook containing "My Experience with Poetry", Bates College Lectures, July 1939
Box 1, Folder 387 College Bluebook containing both Prose and Poetry
Box 1, Folder 39Speech, “Maine: A State of Grace,” Commencement Address, University of Maine, June 14, 1937
Box 1, Folder 40Assorted Prose
Box 1, Folder 41Typescript of book "New Poetry of New England"

Series 3: Art Work

Box 2
Box 2, Folder 1Pen and Ink Sketches
Box 2, Folder 2Engravings
Box 2, Folder 3Original Christmas Card Drawings
Box 2, Folder 4Christmas Cards, 1927-1935
Box 2, Folder 5Christmas Cards, 1936-1943
Box 2, Folder 6Signed Prints by J. J. Lankes

Series 4: Miscellaneous

Box 2, Folder 7Manuscript of 1911 Brunswick High School Salutatory Speech and early writings
Box 2, Folder 8Miscellaneous notes and newspaper clippings
Box 2, Folder 9Miscellaneous notes and printings

Series 5: Printed Materials

Box 2, Folder 10Printed material about Coffin including his obituary
Box 2, Folder 11Printed material about Coffin in the Colby Library Quarterly , , 1965-1968
Box 2, Folder 12"Ivy Ode," or "Planting of the Ivy" in theBowdoin Orient,19151915
Box 2, Folder 38“Golden Falcon,” 1927
Box 2, Folder 14“In Memoriam–Thomas S. Jones, Jr.”, 1935
Box 2, Folder 15“Church on the Hill”, 1935
Box 2, Folder 16Kennebec: Cradle of the Americans, specimen chapter, “Lambda Jubilee”, 1937
Box 2, Folder 17“Maine: A State of Grace,” The Maine Bulletin, June 14, 1937
Box 2, Folder 18 “Epithalamion for a Western World,” for the marriage of Mary-Alice Coffin and Vernon Charles Westcott, April 29, 1944, and “The First Christmas Tree,”
Box 2, Folder 19“The Sesquicentennial Poem,” Bowdoin College Bulletin, , August, 1944
Box 2, Folder 20“Ashes and Sparks”, 1947
Box 2, Folder 21“The Good End,”Bowdoin College Bulletin, June 1951
Box 2, Folder 22 “Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart. (1759-1839) Admiral and Prophet”, Newcomen Society of North America, 1951; Strange Holiness, proof, MacMillan Co., 1935
Box 2, Folder 24 A Book "Hellas Revisited", 1954;
Box 2, Folder 25“In Memoriam–Kenneth Clark Morton Sills,” Bowdoin College Bulletin, December, 1954
Box 2, Folder 26“The Bowdoin Sun”
Box 2, Folder 27“Gospel According to New England”
Box 3
Box 3, Folder 1Appeared 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 3, Folder 2Appeared in The American Mercury: “What Kind of People Are We?” (November 1943); “Second Boyhood” (July 1947, 1943-1947
Box 3, Folder 3Appeared in The Atlantic: “February Hens” (March 1944); “Upstairs” (April 1944); “Holy Well” (October 1945), 1944-1945
Box 3, Folder 4Appeared in The Atlantic: “A Godless Thing” (January 1946); “Afternoon with Goats” (May 1946); “Church on Water” (March 1947), 1946-1947
Box 3, Folder 5Appeared in The Atlantic: “The Land the Old Ones Keep” (May 1952); “Thunder was Born in the Hay Yard” (September 1943), 1943-1952
Box 3, Folder 6Appeared 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 3, Folder 7Appeared 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 3, Folder 8Appeared in The Bowdoin Quill: “The Lustre Pitcher”, (December 1934)
Box 4
Box 4, Folder 1Appeared in Commonweal/Cosmopolitan: “Singers in France” (Commonweal, April 1938);“Bequest”, (Cosmopolitan: April 1947), 1938-1947
Box 4, Folder 2Appeared in Downeast: “Maine Winter,” (Winter 1955)
Box 4, Folder 3Appeared 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 4, Folder 4Appeared 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 4, Folder 5Appeared in The Georgia Review:“The Armadillo,” (Summer 1955)
Box 4, Folder 6Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Five Bare Boys” (October 1941); “Lost Son” (January 1944), 1941-1944
Box 4, Folder 7Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Boys are Turned Out” (August 1946); “Boys Afire” (October 1947), 1946-1947
Box 4, Folder 8Appeared in Good Housekeeping: “Lost Room,” (December 1947)
Box 4, Folder 9Appeared 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 5
Box 5, Folder 1Appeared in Gourmet: “The Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (February, March and April 1953), March-April 1953
Box 5, Folder 2Appeared in Gourmet: “Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (May, June, August, September, October, and November 1953), May-November 1953
Box 5, Folder 3Appeared in Gourmet: “Log of a Seagoing Farm” (prose) (December 1953); “The Snow Farm” (January, February – includes obituary, March and April 1955),1953-1955
Box 5, Folder 4Appeared in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism: “Poetry Today and Tomorrow” (Vol. 3 no. 9-10) (prose)
Box 5, Folder 5Appeared in The Library Lantern: publication of Hamilton-Smith Library of the University of New Hampshire: review of C.P., June 1939
Box 5, Folder 6Appeared in Murphy’s Tavern: “The Democratic-Republican Cheese,” (Summer 1946); “Unfinished Symphony.”
Box 5, Folder 7Appeared 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 5, Folder 8Appeared 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 5, Folder 9Appeared 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 5, Folder 10Appeared 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 5, Folder 11Appeared in Old Farmer’s Almanac, 1937-1939
Box 5, Folder 12Appeared 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 6
Box 6, Folder 1Appeared 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 6, Folder 2Appeared 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 6, Folder 3Appeared in Science Illustrated: “The Rainbow” (September 1944); “Terrible and Exact Geometrics” (January 1945), 1944-1945
Box 6, Folder 4Appeared in The Southwest Review: “Granite’s a Model” (Summer 1945); “The Red Drummer” (Fall 1945); “Solitude” (Fall 1946), 1945
Box 6, Folder 5Appeared in The Southwest Review: The Man Who Measured Out Music” (Spring 1946), 1946; “The Secret.”
Box 6, Folder 6Appeared 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 6, Folder 7Appeared 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 6, Folder 8Appeared in Yankee:“Lesson Outdoors” (May 1947); “Red Robin” (May 1952), 1947-1952
Box 7
Box 7, Folder 1Photographs: 8 different poses for Macmillan, 1 by Lotte Jacobi, 5 taken at Texas State University, 1950 and unidentified
Box 7, Folder 2A Record of Coffin Reading, "Strange Holiness," "The Fog," and "Lantern in the Snow," 1937
Box 7, Folder 3Lectures 2-9, undated: “The Forest”; “The Ship”; “Country Things”; “The Seasons”; “The Farm I”; “The Farm II”; “Schoolhouse and Church” and “The Village”
Box 7, Folder 4“The First Christmas Tree,” poem and print
Box 7, Folder 5“Lambda Jubilee”; “Puer Redemptor”
Box 7, Folder 6Press Release on “Maine: A State of Grace”
Box 7, Folder 7Strange Holinessproof, Macmillan Co., Feb.12, 1935
Box 7, Folder 7Life Magazine: “Maine Winter,” Feb. 12, 1945
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