University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Elizabeth Coatsworth

1902 - 1948


Manuscript Collection Number: 437
Accessioned: Purchase, September 2001.
Extent: .1 linear ft.
Content: letters, manuscripts, photographs, greeting cards, publications, sheet music.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: May 2002, by Kevin Burke.

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Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
(302) 831-2229

Table of Contents

Biographical Note

The American author Elizabeth Coatsworth was a prolific poet and writer of fiction and nonfiction for adults. She is best remembered, however, as a writer of children’s books. Between 1927 and 1975 she published over 80 books for children, and her book The Cat Who Went to Heaven won the Newberry medal in 1931. Coatsworth was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1893. As a child and adult she “. . . traveled widely in the Orient, in North Africa, and in Europe.” She graduated from Vassar in 1915, and received an M.A. from Columbia University in 1916. In 1929, Coatsworth married the American writer Henry Beston with whom she had two daughters. Coatsworth and Beston lived in rural New England, which provides the setting for many of her books. She died in Nobleboro, Maine, in 1986.

Henry Beston was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1888. He attended Harvard University (A.B. 1909, M.A. 1911) and served in the First World War as a member of the Harvard Ambulance Service. From 1919 to 1923, Beston was editor of the Living Age. He spent a year living in solitude in a small house on the outer dunes of Cape Cod in 1927 and translated this experience into his best known book The Outermost House. Following his marriage to Elizabeth Coatsworth, Beston continued to write adult nonfiction and a weekly column for The Progressive, as well as children’s books, from their Maine farm. He died in 1968.


Beston, Henry.” 1996 Biography from World Authors 1900 –1950. Retrieved May 3, 2002 from

“Elizabeth (Jane) Coatsworth.” Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2000. Retrieved May 3, 2002 from

Scope and Content Note

The Elizabeth Coatsworth Papers represents a small collection of family papers relating to the poet and children’s author Elizabeth Coatsworth. Included in the collection are letters to Coatsworth from the English poet and novelist L.A.G. Strong and from the American author Josephine Pinckney. Also included are a number of letters to Coatsworth’s husband, the writer Henry Beston. The collection contains about thirty pages of Coatsworth’s school exercises, a photograph of a young girl, presumably Coatsworth, annotated “Switzerland 1902-03,” and a signed passport photograph of Coatsworth about age twenty. Other materials include Christmas and greeting cards sent to the Beston/Coatsworth family, and printed material related to Hingham, Massachusetts, one of the towns in which they lived. The Elizabeth Coatsworth Papers contains a copy of Wood Forms: A Writing in Basic English About a Basic Interest in the Form of Things, inscribed to Elizabeth Coatsworth by its author, Erastus S. Allen; a copy of The Triangle, a school literary magazine with contributions by Catherine Beston, Elizabeth and Henry’s daughter; and printed sheet music for “Derby Song,” with words by Catherine Beston.

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

F1   Letters to Elizabeth Coatsworth  (3 items)
     n.d            TLS  1p
     From L.A.G. Strong, English poet and novelist, requesting
     permission to reprint verses by Coatsworth in an anthology.
     1940 Dec 19         TLS  1p
     From H.S. Latham, vice president of MacMillan Company,
     regarding publishing decisions on Coatsworth’s forthcoming
     1945 Oct 9          TLS  1p
     From American author Josephine Pinckney expressing gratitude
     for Coatsworth’s praise of her book.

F2   Letters to Henry Beston  (4 items)
     1931 May 21    TLS  1p
     From Winifred Brigham inviting Beston to address the
     November Club of Andover, Mass. on the subject of his book
     The Outermost House.
     1931 May 22    ALS  1p
     From Winifred Brigham correcting the date of the invitation
     given in her previous letter.
     n.d.                ALS  1p
     From Ella Bay, an admirer of The Outermost House, giving her
     own observations of Cape Cod.
     1948 Feb 23         ALS  1p
     From Fiske Rollins reporting on damage to Beston’s house on
     Cape Cod.

F3   Letters and Cards to the Beston Family (9 items)
     Includes Christmas cards with autograph notes from family
     friends, a photograph of a young man in military uniform
     signed “To Beston Family from Ellis,” and a letter (Jan 24
     1946, ALS, 2p) from “Uncle George.”

F4   Juvenalia
     Contains about 30 pages of a child’s school exercises,
     including practice signatures of the name Elizabeth

F5   Photographs
     Includes a reproduction of a photograph of a young girl
     (presumably Coatsworth) annotated “Switzerland, 1902 – 3,”
     and a signed passport photograph of Coatsworth as a young

F6   Allen, Erastus S., Wood Forms: A Writing in Basic English
     about a Basic Interest in the Forms of Things.  Glendale,
     Ohio: Erastus S. Allen, 1943.
     Presentation copy of a book self-published by the author in
     1943. Inscription reads: “To Elizabeth Coatsworth. For
     contributing in inspiration to the writing of this little
     book Sincerely Erastus S Allen.”

F7   “The Triangle”, Vol. XLVI, No. 1, December 1945
     Literary magazine of Emma Willard School in Troy, New York
     with contributions by Catherine Beston, the daughter of
     Henry Beston and Elizabeth Coatsworth.

F8   “Derby Song.”  Boston: John Worley Co., 1949.
     Printed sheet music with words by Catherine Beston and music
     by Mary F. MacNaught, signed by MacNaught.

F9   Manuscripts (5 items)
     Includes 2 unsigned, undated autograph poems, a typed poem
     “Miss Gingham of Hingham” by Arthur Upton, printed version
     of the Coatsworth poem “Calling in the Cat” on a page torn
     from a book, and a sketch in pencil of the design for a

F10  Clippings and Pamphlets (11 items)
     Includes reproductions of photographs and drawings of The
     “Old Ship” Church in Hingham, Mass., and other miscellany.

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