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Robert Peter Tristram Coffin collection

Identifier: M037

  • Staff Only
  • Please use the Collection Organization section below to place requests.

Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence; drafts, proofs and notes of books, poems, essays, plays and lectures; notes, examinations and other material relating to teaching at Bowdoin, Wells, and other institutions; personal records outlining his education (grade school through Oxford University) and his personal life; documents both personal and professional; recordings of his poems; and photographs. Major correspondents include members of the Coffin family and of the Bowdoin College staff; letters from literary and artistic colleagues are also included.


  • Creation: 1842-1989, undated
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1910 - 1955


Access Restrictions

No restrictions.


Bowdoin College does not hold copyright to the works of Robert Peter Tristram Coffin. The literary agent for the Coffin estate is Alison D. Coffin. Please contact for additional information.

Biographical/Historical Note

Robert P.T. Coffin (1892-1955), writer, professor and Pulitzer Prize winning poet, was born and educated in Brunswick, Maine. He attended Bowdoin College (Class of 1915), Princeton (A.M. 1916) and, as a Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University (A.B. 1920); while in England, he served to 2nd Lieutenant of the U.S. Army. Coffin began his teaching career as instructor and, later, professor of English at Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. (1921-1934), where he ran the English honors course. He returned to Bowdoin as Pierce Professor of English (1934-1955), was a visiting lecturer at several colleges and universities from the 1930s through 1950s, and a Fulbright scholar at the University of Athens in 1953-54.

Coffin is best known as a writer of more than three dozen works of prose, poetry and history, and as the winner of the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book, Strange Holiness. He lectured widely and was frequently invited to read from his popular poetry. Coffin married Ruth Phillip in 1918; they had four children, and both sons attended Bowdoin.


49.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Papers of Robert Peter Tristram Coffin (1892-1955), writer, Bowdoin College Pierce Professor of English (1934-1955), and Pulitzer Prize winning poet, including correspondence; drafts, proofs and notes of books, poems, essays, plays and lectures; notes, examinations and other material relating to teaching, and biographical materials.

Guide to the Robert Peter Tristram Coffin Collection
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021-04-23: Finding aid updated with copyright information about the new literary executor for the Coffin Estate.

Repository Details

Part of the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library, Brunswick, Maine 04011 Repository

3000 College Station
Brunswick Maine 04011 USA
(207) 725-3288