Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Coffin, Robert

Works by R. P. T. Coffin
Christchurch
(1924)
Book Of Crowns And Cottages (1925)
Dew And Bronze (1927)
A Book Of Seventeenth-Century Prose
(1929)
An Attic Room (1929)Golden Falcon (1929)
Laud, Storm Center Of Stuart England
(1930)
The Dukes Of Buckingham : Playboys Of The Stuart World
(1931)
Portrait Of An American
(1931)
The Yoke Of Thunder
(1932)
Ballads of Square-Toed Americans
(1933)
Lost Paradise: A Boyhood On A Maine Coast Farm
(1934)
Red Sky In The Morning
(1935)
Strange Holiness
(1935)
John Dawn
(1936)
Kennebec, Cradle Of Americans
(1937)
Saltwater Farm
(1937)
Maine Ballads
(1938)
New Poetry Of New England: Frost And Robinson
(1938)
Captain Abby And Captain John: An Around-The-World Biography
(1939)
Christmas In Maine (1941)
Thomas-Thomas-Ancil-Thomas
(1941)
Book of Uncles (1942)
The Substance That Is Poetry
(1942)
There Will Be Bread And Love (1942)
Primer For America (1943)Mainstays Of Maine (1945)
Poems For A Son With Wings
(1945)
People Behave Like Ballads
(1946)
Yankee Coast
(1947)
Coast Calendar
(1949)
One-Horse Farm: Down-East Georgics
(1949)
The Third Hunger  & The Poem Aloud
(1949)
Apples by Ocean
(1950)
Life In America: New England
(1951)
Maine Doings
(1951)
On The Green Carpet
(1951)
Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart., 1759-1839: Admiral And Prophet
(1951)
Poems That Write The Poet (1953)Hellas Revisited (1954)

Robert Peter Tristram Coffin (1892-1955) was born in Brunswick on March 18, 1892 and grew up in Harpswell on Great Island on his father’s salt water farm.

Coffin graduated from Bowdoin College in 1915 at the top of his class, having won several prizes for his excellent writing, including the Hawthorne Prize for short stories twice. Awarded the Henry W. Longfellow fellowship, he spent a year at Princeton then went to Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. His studies were interrupted by a year in the armed services during World War I.

In 1924 he published his volume of poems, Christchurch, the first of forty books. By 1936 he had won the Pulitzer Prize for Strange Holiness.

Other awards include Honorary Life Member, National Arts Club, 1931; Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Harvard, 1932; Gold Medal, National Honor Poet, 1935; and elected to National Institute of Arts and Letters, 1946.

R. P. T. Coffin lectured at the University of Indiana and at the University of Cincinnati. He was a member of the English Department at Wells College in Aurora, New York.

Coffin returned to Bowdoin to teach (1934-1955), and was honored there on July 9, 1948 when he read from his poems and displayed his drawings.

Additional resources

The Bowdoin College Library’s Special Collections Library holds many of his manuscripts, drafts, proofs, notes, personal records, lectures, plays, poems, books, recordings, and photographs.

“Epilogue.” Colby Quarterly. December, 1965.

Sanborn, Annie Coffin. The Life of Robert Peter Tristram Coffin and Family. Alton, New Hampshire. 1963.

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