Material received from Elizabeth Coatsworth between 1966 and 1973; "The Old Mare" purchased.
Noncirculating; available for research.
The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership, and obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.
Elizabeth Coatsworth was born on May 31, 1893 in Buffalo, New York. She received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1915 from Vassar College and the Master of Arts in 1916 from Columbia University. She also attended Radcliffe College and received an honorary degree from the University of Maine (1955). Coatsworth spent much of her life traveling. As a young girl, she and her family visited the Alps, rode donkeys across the deserts of Egypt, explored pre-revolutionary Mexico on horseback, fished in Catalina, and climbed trails in the Yosemite Valley. After earning her master's degree, Coatsworth traveled for thirteen months in the Far East, including a horseback trip through Philippine head-hunting country.
She began writing poetry in the summer of 1914 while visiting her mother and sister in London. In 1927 her first book of children's poetry, The Cat and the Captain, was published by Louise Seaman at Macmillan, who had started the first children's book department in the United States. In 1929 Coatsworth married Henry Beston, also a writer; they had two children. In 1931 they moved to Chimney Farm in Nobleboro, Maine, where they continued to write.
Coatsworth first achieved acclaim as a poet and short story writer, then turned to children's books and later to novels and essays. A prolific writer whose publications spanned more than fifty years, she produced over ninety books of fiction and poetry for children. She also wrote numerous adult novels, books of verse, and works about Maine, and edited a volume of her husband's writings. Coatsworth won several awards, including the Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven, 1931; the Children's Spring Book Festival Honor Award for The Littlest House, 1940, and Under the Green Willow, 1971; the New England Poetry Club Golden Rose, 1967; Hans Christian Andersen Award Highly Commended Author, 1968; and the Kerlan Award, 1975. She died at her home in Maine in 1986.
The material in the collection pertains primarily to writings from the end of Coatsworth's lengthy career. There is a short autobiography, written about 1972, and photograph (undated); correspondence from Coatsworth to the de Grummond Collection, 1966-1973, identifying the donated material; and material relating to five works published between 1970 and 1973; and numerous miscellaneous short stories, poems, and pieces of prose. The biographical material and correspondence appear first in the collection, followed by the published titles, which are organized in alphabetical order. Materials within each title are arranged in the probable order of creation. At the end of the collection are the miscellaneous writings.
For Daisy (1973), Coatsworth's story of an eleven-year-old girl exploring Mexico City that is based on her own travels there in 1908-1909, the collection contains nine pages of manuscript notes. For Good Night (1972), a rhyming picture book about a little child who goes to bed as a star watches overhead, the collection includes fifteen manuscript pages titled "three variations of the theme Good Night." This is written upside down in the back of a notebook. In the front of the notebook are notes on a possible book, "The Prouds," not related to Good Nightand apparently never published. For Grandmother Cat and the Hermit (1970), a story of a young boy and his cat discovering a hermit who is friend to all animals, the collection contains two versions of the poem at the end of the book, one handwritten in a notebook and one typescript and identified by Coatsworth as "unused." Also in the notebook is a one-page version of a "rewritten ending" for Grandmother Cat and the Hermit.
The collection includes both a manuscript and typescript of the introduction that Coatsworth wrote for the 1973 reprint of Sarah Orne Jewett's classic "The White Heron" in an anthology titled Author's Choice; the autobiography mentioned above was prepared for this publication. In 1970 Coatsworth edited a collection of the writings of her husband, Henry Beston (Especially Maine: The Natural World of Henry Beston from Cape Cod to the St. Lawrence). The collection contains a letter from agent Mark Paterson regarding this book, as well as five pages of manuscript notes for a lecture Coatsworth delivered at the University of Maine titled "The Writer In Maine."
The collection holds five folders of short stories, poems, and prose, most of which are undated and appear to be unpublished. Titles, if they can be identified, are listed in the box inventory. Included are typescripts for nine short stories. One, "The Rabbit Ball," appeared in Story Parade in 1953. Also in the collection are poetry and prose identified by Coatsworth as "material for the Golden Book, not used," the handwritten first draft (in a notebook) and a typed draft of nineteen poems that she may have written about the same time as the poem in Grandmother Cat and the Hermit. Typescripts of three poems, including "The Old Mare" which appeared in the anthology Modern American Poets in 1927 appear to be the oldest material in the collection. There also are 14 pages of "discarded rhymes," and nine pages of miscellaneous prose, all typescript. The last folder in the collection contains a notebook filled with manuscript prose and poetry, mostly untitled. In the back of the notebook is what appears to be Coatsworth's Christmas present list.
A. Biographical Material1/1 Autobiography, manuscript, ca. 1972, 4 pp. Photograph, undated.
B. Correspondence1/2 From Coatsworth to the de Grummond Collection, 1966-1973, 3 items.
C. BooksDAISY by Elizabeth Coatsworth, pictures by Judith Gwyn Brown (New York: Macmillan, 1973). 1/3 Manuscript notes, 9 pp. GOOD NIGHT by Elizabeth Coatsworth, pictures by Jose Aruego (New York: Macmillan, 1972). 1/4 Manuscript in notebook, three versions of poem, 15 pp. Notes on possible book, "The Prouds," upside down in back of notebook, 11 pp. GRANDMOTHER CAT AND THE HERMIT by Elizabeth Coatsworth, pictures by Irving Boker (New York: Macmillan, 1970). 1/5 Rewritten ending and manuscript poem, photocopy, 3 pp. [original in folder 1/9). "Unused poem," typescript, 1 p.
D. Short Stories1/6 "The Black Lamb," typescript, edited, 4 pp. "The Chicadee Garden," typescript, 4 pp. "The Four Goslings," typescript, 2 pp. "The Fox," typescript, 3 pp. "Little Trusty," typescript, 5 pp. "Marianne," typescript, edited, 7 pp. "The Rabbit Ball" (illustrated by Patricia Villemain, Story Parade, vol. 18, no. 4, 1953), typescript, 2 pp. "The Spoon," typescript, 3 pp. "The Spotted Fawn," typescript, 4 pp.
E. Poetry and Miscellaneous Prose1/7 Introduction by Elizabeth Coatsworth to "The White Heron" by Sarah Orne Jewett, in Author's Choice (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1973). 1/8 Manuscript, 4 pp. Typescript, 4 pp. 1/9 Typescript, "Material for the Golden Book, not used," poetry and prose, 27 pp. 1/10 Notebook with "Grandmother Cat" and 19 poems, 15 pp. Typescript of poems from notebook, 20 pp. 1/11 Typescript of 3 titled poems, 3 pp. Typescript of untitled poems, 14 pp. Typescript of 3 prose works, 4 pp. Typescript of untitled prose, 5 pp. 1/12 Manuscript of poetry and prose in notebook, with Christmas gift list in back, 112 pp.
F. Henry Beston Papers1/13 "The Writer In Maine," lecture notes, manuscript, 5 pp. Letter from Mark Paterson, agent, to Coatsworth, 1969, 1 item.
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
The University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, #5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001
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