Elizabeth Coatsworth papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

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 http://vweb.hwwilsonweb.com

"Elizabeth (Jane) Coatsworth." Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2000. Retrieved May 3, 2002 from http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC

Scope and Contents

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.