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Robinson Jeffers Papers

Identifier: MSS-0749

Scope and Contents

The sixty-five items of this collection span the years 1904-1964; the bulk fall between 1928-1940. It contains magazines, literary periodicals, correspondence, manuscripts, and some bound volumes. It includes published and unpublished writings, reviews, and biographical and critical articles.

The correspondence includes seven letters, 1926-1952. In this group are four of the thirty-three known letters written by Jeffers between 1925 and 1928 to Donald Friede, representative of the publishing firm of Boni & Liveright. Most of the letters to Friede are held by the University of Texas. These four letters have been published in Ann N. Ridgeway, ed., The Selected Letters of Robinson Jeffers (Baltimore: the Johns Hopkins Press, 1968). Among the remaining three letters by Jeffers in this collection is a significant one to Professor Camille McCole of Notre Dame University, in which Jeffers explains his views on poetry.

The collection contains a small group of unpublished writings ([ca, 1926]-1937), including holograph and typescript versions of an unfinished poem about the resurrection of Achilles. This fragment does not seem to have found its way into print. Other noteworthy items are a manuscript of "Promise of Peace" and a printed but unpublished poem, "Hope is Not For the Wise."

The published writings in the collection date from 1904 to 1952, with most falling between 1931-1941. A rare prose piece, "All the Corn in One Barn," is included, as well as several of Jeffers's comments and articles. Some of the writings are in publications not readily available elsewhere (The Carmelite and The Carmel Pine Cone, for example). The collection is especially rich in the original periodical publication of many of Jeffers's shorter poems. These versions may be useful to textual editors.

The papers include ten mostly favorable reviews of Jeffers's work and seventeen articles about Jeffers written between 1926 and 1958. Most fall in the years 1926-1948.

Along with the fine collection of rare editions and critical and biographical works given to the University of Alabama by Dr. Smith, the Robinson Jeffers collection furnishes a useful adjunct to the main collections of Jeffers material at Occidental College and the University of Virginia.


  • 1904 - 1964
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1948

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Robinson Jeffers was born 10 January 1887 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His parents were Annie Robinson Tuttle Jeffers and Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers, professor of Old Testament literature at the Western Theological Seminary of Pittsburgh. An only child for seven years, Jeffers received the full attention of his parents. They introduced him to literature, the Greek language, and travel in Europe. The young Jeffers was frequently placed in boarding schools abroad while his parents traveled. When he was fifteen, Jeffers attended the University of Western Pennsylvania. In the next year he enrolled in Occidental College, after his family moved to Pasadena, California. At Occidental, Jeffers wrote for campus publications. His poem, "The Condor," was published in 1904 in The Youth's Companion.

Upon graduating from Occidental, Jeffers attended graduate classes at the University of Southern California, where he met and fell in love with Una Call Kuster. The next eight years proved to be unsettled ones. Jeffers traveled abroad, studied medicine at the University of Southern California and forestry at the University of Washington, and tried to forget Una, who was at that time married to another man. In 1912 he published a volume of poetry, Flagons and Apples. In August 1913, he married the now-divorced Una. They settled in Carmel, California. World War I forced him to curtail travel; he channeled his energies into building a granite home by the Pacific, Tor House.

Initially, Jeffers poetry celebrated his beloved California. Macmillan published Californians in 1916, the year that also saw the birth of his twin sons, Donnan and Garth. Yet Tamar and Other Poems (1924) and subsequent works dealt with often unorthodox and unsettling themes. Nonetheless they were well received. Roan Stallion, Tamar, and Other Poems was published in 1925. The Women at Point Sur followed in 1927, Cawdor and Other Poems in 1928, and Dear Judas in 1929.

Jeffers's reputation continued to grow. He traveled with his family in Great Britain and New Mexico and published Descent to the Dead (1931), Thurso's Landing (1932), Give Your Heart to the Hawks (1933) and Solstice and Other Poems (1935). After 1935 Jeffers' popularity declined. Critics found his later efforts uneven, and Jeffers's isolationist viewpoints did not help his public standing. Such Counsels You Gave to Me (1937), Be Angry at the Sun (1941) and The Double Axe and Other Poems were published during this time. However, Jeffers's adaptation of Euripides's Medea, published in 1946 and performed on Broadway with Judith Anderson, was well received.

In 1950, Una died. Jeffers remained at Tor House, writing little, althougn Hungerfield and Other Poems was published in 1954. Jeffers died in 1962.


3.9 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Letters, manuscripts of unpublished poems, first editions and published pieces by this California poet.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr. Wallace Bruce Smith, 1952

Processing Information

Processed by Jill Mendle, 1988.
Guide to Robinson Jeffers Papers
Finding aid created by Jill Mendle, 1988
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266