Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Beston Family Papers, 1899-1977, n.d.

Beston Family Papers, 1899-1977, n.d.

18.0 linear feet.

Catalog Number:M12

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
Henry Beston (1888-1968) was a noted author and naturalist. Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986), his wife, was a prominent author of children's books. Living much of their lives at Chimney Farm in Nobleboro, Maine, or in Hingham, Massachusetts, both tended towards Maine or New England color in their works.

Beston, born Henry Beston Sheahan, received his A.B. (1908) and A.M. (1911) degrees from Harvard. He served with the Harvard Ambulance Service in World War I. Later, he covered the U.S. Navy for the Atlantic Monthly.

Beston returned to New England after the war, became editor of the The Living Age magazine, and began publishing books. Most of his works, notably The Outermost House (1928) and The St. Lawrence (1942), concern nature and wildlife. He also wrote several children's book, including Firelight Fairy Book and Chimney Farm Bedtime Stories (co-authored with Coatsworth). Beston received an honorary degree from Bowdoin in 1953. He died in 1968.

Elizabeth Coatsworth was born in Buffalo, N.Y., and travelled extensively throughout her early life. She received her B.A. from Vassar (1915) and her M.A. from Columbia (1916). Coatsworth's first children's book was The Cat and the Captain (1927). She won the 1931 Newbery Medal for The Cat Who Went to Heaven (1930)and received numerous other awards for her writing, including the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1968 and the Kerlan Award in 1975. Elizabeth Coatsworth died in 1986.

The Bestons were married in 1929. They had two daughters.

Scope and Content:
Correspondence (1899-1977); literary drafts, notes, reviews, etc. (ca. 1919-1970) for titles including Especially Maine, The Firelight Fairy BookNorthern Farm, The Outermost House, The Starlight Wonder Book and The St. Lawrence; photographs; biographical and family records, including clippings, essays, documents, drawings, and memorabilia (1926-1968); scrapbooks (1933-1968); and other material relating to the Beston family. Although most of the correspondence is among family members, especially between Beston and Coatsworth, there are letters to or from staff members at Harper's Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and other magazines; at Doubleday Doran, Macmillan, and other publishers; and to orfrom authors such as H.L. Mencken, Laura E. Richards, Fannie Eckstorm, and Frances Perkins. There are also extensive exchanges with Truesdale Fife, Jr., J. Luther Neff, and David McCord.

Cite as: Beston Family Papers, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College Library

Access Restrictions: None.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
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