Robert Francis Papers

17 boxes (8.25 linear ft.)
Call no.: MS 403
rotating decorative images from SCUA collections

The poet and essayist Robert Francis settled in Amherst, Mass., in 1926, three years after his graduation from Harvard, and created a literary life that stretched for the better part of half a century. An associate of Robert Frost and friend of many other writers, Francis occasionally worked as a teacher or lecturer, including a brief stint on the faculty at Mount Holyoke College, but he sustained himself largely through his writing, living simply in "Fort Juniper," a cottage he built on Market Hill Road in North Amherst. A recipient of the Shelley Award (1939) and the Academy of American Poets award for distinguished poetic achievement (1984), Francis was a poet in residence at both Tufts (1955) and Harvard (1960) Universities. He died in Amherst in July 1987.

The Francis Papers contains both manuscript and printed materials, drafts and finished words, documenting the illustrious career of the poet. Of particular note is Francis's correspondence with other writers, publishing houses, and readers, notably Paul Theroux. Also contains personal photographs and Francis family records and a small number of audio recordings of Francis reading his poetry. Letters from Francis to Regina Codey, 1936-1978, can be found in MS 314 along with two typescript poems by Francis.

See similar SCUA collections:

Background on Robert Francis

An image of: Robert Francis, 1925.

Robert Francis, 1925.

A key figure in poetry circles in western New England during the mid-twentieth century, Robert Francis was born in Upland, Pennsylvania, on August 12, 1901, the son of the Rev. Ebenezer F. Francis and Ida May Allen Francis. In 1910, the Francis family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, where Robert attended the local public schools, graduating valedictorian of his high school, before entering Harvard College in 1919 to study literature. After receiving his bachelor's degree and teaching English in the prep school of the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1923, Francis returned to Harvard to study for a master's in education.

Teaching, however, never became Francis's focus in life. A few months after completing his M.Ed., he moved to Amherst to teach English in the high school, but remained only a year. From this slender beginning in western Massachusetts, Francis set out to create a base for a literary career, supporting himself at first by his writing and by teaching violin. Over the next decade, he poured forth a steady stream of articles for a variety of newspapers, including a regular stint writing the "Home Forum" column of the Christian Science Monitor (1938-1954). Francis's poetry and longer essays also began to appear in print on a regular basis.

In 1936, Francis published his first volume of poetry, Stand With Me Here, with Macmillan, a critically well-received collection of modern verse that firmly established his poetic voice and garnered the attention and of fellow writers. One of those instrumental in the publication of Stand With Me Here was David Morton of Amherst College, whose friendship brought the benefits both of encouragement and wide experience with publishing.

On the strength of his first book, Francis was invited in August 1937 to attend the Breadloaf Writers Conference as a fellow, where he met Kentucky writer James Still. Primed by his experience at Breadloaf, Francis published his second volume, Valhalla and Other Poems, a year later, winning praise from one of New England's best known poets, Robert Frost. With a rapidly expanding circle of literary friends and associates, Francis's career seemed to be gathering steam, and his efforts began to bear fruits: in March 1939, he was named co-recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award and in 1942-1943, he became the recipient of the Golden Rose Award of the New England Poetry Club. Through his involvement with the Club, he became acquainted with another important friend and literary sponsor, Gretchen (Mrs. Fiske) Warren.

With his fortunes waxing in 1940, Francis built a Spartan, one-man cottage on Market Hill Road in North Amherst to serve as his writing refuge. Fort Juniper, as he began to call the house, fulfilled the essential conditions of Francis's philosophy, combining his love of nature, leisure, and solitude.

In 1944, after brief service in the army during the Second World War, Francis accepted a position in the English Department at Mount Holyoke College. When he again resigned from the teaching profession, little more than a year later, he renewed his commitment to writing. In addition to contributing a regular column, "Country Comment," to Forum magazine, Francis published a novel, We Fly Away, in 1948, and a third volume of poems, Face Against the Glass, in 1950. This period of high productivity, however, came crashing down in the early 1950s, when Francis passed through what he later called his "Lean Years." During these years, he found a measure of compensation through his performances as a violin soloist in churches and publications in The New Yorker and The Saturday Review. Even though his rate of publication in poetry suffered, he continued to reap the rewards of a strong reputation. In 1955, he was named Phi Beta Kappa poet at Tufts University, he spent the academic year 1957-1958 on the Rome Prize Fellowship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, and he spent the year 1960 as poet in residence at Harvard. He returned to Italy in 1967 on an Amy Lowell Poetry Scholarship.

In 1965, Francis issued his fourth collection of poems, Come Out Into the Sun, with his fifth, Like Ghosts of Eagles, following in 1974. He turned to memoir in the 1970s, with the appearance of an autobiography, The Trouble With Francis, in 1971, and Frost: A Time to Talk in 1972, his account of visits with Robert Frost in the 1950s, both published with the University of Massachusetts Press. 1976 was a particularly productive year, featuring the appearance of three volumes: A Certain Distance (a book of prose sketches), Collected Poems, and Francis On the Spot: An Interview With Robert Francis, conducted by Philip Tetreault and Kathy Sewalk-Karcher.

At this late point in his career, Francis began to receive a surge of attention, both locally and nationally. In Amherst, he was regularly called upon to give readings of his work at the Jones Library (the local public library), and on several occasions, he was featured on "Poems to a Listener," a program on the Five College radio station, WFCR. Nationally, the Academy of American Poets recognized Francis with its award for "distinguished poetic achievement" in April 1984. All the while, Francis continued to write, publishing his reflections on poetry, Pot Shots at Poetry, in 1980, followed in 1984 with his final volume of poems, Butter Hill, and a book of short prose pieces, The Satirical Rogue on All Fronts.

In 1981 interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Francis remarked that his "specialty has been not to earn much, but to spend little," however his specialty also included a literary talent that spanned the genres of poetry, essays, novels, memoirs, and journal writing, and talents that extended to a wide circle of friends and fellow writers, from Frost, Still, and Morton to younger poets such as Anne Halley and Doris Abramson. Robert Francis died in Amherst in July 1987. The Juniper Prize in Poetry, established by the UMass Press in 1975, is named in honor of Francis's North Amherst home.

Scope of collection

The Robert Francis Papers are a rich source of information on the life and philosophy of the poet Robert Francis and the development of his career in literature. Occupying approximately 8.25 linear feet, the papers are divided into seven series, including Bio-bibliographical, Correspondence, Poetry, Non-fiction, Fiction, Photographs, and Recordings.

The correspondence, poetry, and non-fiction series are especially strong and provide a detailed account of Mr. Francis' long literary career.

This collection is organized into seven series:

Series descriptions

Francis family records, Francis' own notes as a student, lectures, student papers and theses about the poet, along with blueprints of Fort Juniper, diplomas, and newspaper and magazine articles are found in Series 1. Also included is an extensive bibliography. Copies of the Syracuse University guide to the collection of papers Francis donated in 1968-1969 (4.5 linear feet) and the Jones Library guide to their collection of Francis materials, mostly published versions, are filed here as well. See also Series 4.

Incoming letters and copies of outgoing letters, chiefly with other writers, publishing houses, and readers are in Series 2. Notable are the letters relating to publishing and business matters in general. These letters are revealing examples of the poet's economics, or, as Mr. Francis has said, "how a lone poet learns to look out for his financial interests." A number of letters come from young writers looking for advice and encouragement. Of special importance is the correspondence of novelist Paul Theroux, who came to know Mr. Francis while studying with Joseph Langland at the University of Massachusetts. The bulk of their correspondence is from Theroux's graduation in 1963 until 1970. Series 2 also contains copies of correspondence between poet Marianne Moore and the University of Massachusetts Press (1956-1968). In these letters Ms. Moore extends her praise to Robert Francis and to the Press for the worthy publication of his works. Other correspondents include John Ciardi, Peter DeVries, Gerald Warner Brace, Dudley Fitts, Donald Hall, Rolfe Humphries, Howard Moss, Richard Wilbur, Rosellen Brown, and Ted Shawn. See also Series 4.

Series 3 is divided into subseries by book titles, which are arranged chronologically. Under the book title headings are author's notes, worksheets and drafts, typescripts, galley proofs and copies of proofs. Book reviews and comments are filed under each title as well. Worksheets of poems in some instances contain page references to the poem in its final form in the Collected Poems. Journals in which Francis' poems are published, Francis' teaching materials, and Francis' comments on poetry are also included in this series.

Series 4 is divided into subseries by book titles, which are arranged chronologically, in the same manner as Series 3. Newspaper and magazine columns follow book-length works in the series and are arranged chronologically within their own subseries. Materials pertaining to the author's autobiography, The Trouble With Francis, including his interleaved copy of the book (Mr. Francis keyed photographs, biographical documents, correspondence, and notes to their corresponding pages), are also contained in Series 4.

Series 5 contains Mr. Woodchuck (three chapters of an unfinished novel) and "What a Witch Told Me."

Photographs from virtually every period of Francis's life and of Francis' family and friends are included in Series 6. See Series 4 for additional photos.

Tapes of Mr. Francis reading and discussing his poetry; WFCR Radio "Poems for a Listener" broadcasts; phonograph recordings of readings; and a phonograph recording of Koopman's musical composition for "Picasso and Matisse" are in Series 7.


Series 1. Bio-bibliographical

Guide to the Robert Francis Papers
Box 1: 1
UMass public info file on Robert Francis
Box 1: 2
Contemporary Authors biographical entry
Box 1: 3
Box 1: 4
Revised bibliography
Box 1: 5
Syracuse and Jones Library inventories
Box 1: 6
Guide to the Robert Francis Collection at the Jones Library
Box 1: 7
Autobiographical notes
Box 1: 8
Allen grandparents: genealogy, news clippings
Box 2: 9
Francis: family genealogy
Box 2: 10
Francis, James (RF's uncle): diary
Box 2: 11
Francis, May Allen (RF's mother): funeral notices
Box 2: 12
Francis, Ruth Isabel (RF's sister): biographical sketch
Box 2: 13
Francis grandparents: Tupper Family Association
Box 2: 14
Robert Francis' education records
Box 2: 15
Fort Juniper house plans

see Fort Juniper blueprints, Map Case 4, Drawer 1, and Posters for readings 1948-1977, Map Case 4, Drawer 1

Box 2: 16
Readings: notices
Box 2: 17
Readings: news clippings
Box 2: 18
Mass. State College: class notes, botany
Box 2: 19
Mass. State College: lecture notes, geology
Box 2: 20
Chautauqua Writer's Workshop: student comments
Box 2: 21
Notes on Italy, American Academy
Box 2: 22
School visits: mementos
Box 2: 23
Honorary degree from University of Massachusetts
Box 2: 24
Massachusetts Archive: pamphlet
Box 2: 25
American Poets Fellowship Award
Box 2: 26
Articles about Robert Francis
Box 3: 27
Articles about Robert Francis
Box 3: 28
Articles about Robert Francis
Box 3: 29
Articles about Robert Francis
Box 3: 30
Wellman, Cora B., undergraduate paper on RF, Harvard University
Box 3: 31
Lectures (2) on RF by Howard Nostrand
Box 3: 32
California State College, student papers (7) on RF
Box 3: 33
Coleman, J.M., undergraduate paper on RF, U. of Virginia
Box 3: 34
Zmuda, R., undergraduate paper on RF, Allegheny Community College
Box 3: 35
California State College, undergraduate papers (5) on RF
Box 3: 36
"Robert Francis: A Critical Biography" (master's thesis) by Elinor Phillips Cubbage
Box 3: 37
"Freedom to Fastidious Form: Theory, Form and Theme in the Poetry of Robert Francis" (master's thesis) by Charles Sides
Box 3: 38
Lecture by David Young
Box 3: 39
"Move Over, Henry Thoreau" and "Robert Francis's Concept of 'E'" by Charles Sides
Box 3: 40
"Robert Francis: The Best Neglected Poet" by Delores Whitney
Box 3: 41
Series 2. Correspondence

Arranged alphabetically.

Abbe - Arnold (except Allen grandparents)

Box 4: 42
Allen grandparents

Box 4: 43
Atlantic Monthly

Box 4: 44
Baird - Beasley

Box 4: 45
Beirut, American U.

Box 4: 46
Bennetto - Boyd (except Berger, Arthur and re: "The Boy Who Will Play Beethoven's Fifth")

Box 4: 47
Berger, Arthur

Box 4: 48
re: "The Boy Who Will Play Beethoven's Fifth"

Box 4: 49
Brace - Cates

Box 4: 50
Cheroweth - Crozier (except Contemporary Poets)

Box 4: 51
re: Contemporary Poets

Box 4: 52
Dakin - DeMarrais

Box 4: 53
Donnelly, Dorothy

Box 4: 54
Dostal - Fox

Box 4: 55
Fox, Walter

Box 4: 56
Francis grandparents

Box 4: 57
Francis, James, Francis, Matthew

Box 4: 58
Francis, May Allen

Box 4: 59
Francis, Robert (French author)

Box 4: 60
Francis, Robert (RF's namesake)

Box 4: 61
Francis, Ruth I.

Box 4: 62-63
Francis - Hamburger

Box 4: 64
Hammarstrom - Hosford

Box 5: 65
re: "Home Forum" column

Box 5: 66
Howes, Jeanne C.

Box 5: 67
The Power of Will (Howes enclosure)

Box 5: 68
Humphries - Juscik (except Junkins, Donald)

Box 5: 69
Junkins, Donald

Box 5: 70
Kaplan, Herbert

Box 5: 71
Kaplan, Peter

Box 5: 72
Hates - Ledert

Box 5: 73
Lindh - Lyric

Box 5: 74
McGinty - Maynard (except MacMillan Publishing Co.)

Box 5: 75
MacMillan Publishing Company

Box 5: 76
Meachem - Musser (except Miller, Charles)

Box 5: 77
Miller, Charles

Box 5: 78
Nelson, Howard

Box 5: 79
NY Times - New Yorker

Box 5: 80
Nicholson - Osbourne

Box 5: 81
Pacelli - Phillips

Box 5: 82
Piskor, Frank

Box 5: 83
Plunge - Rigby

Box 5: 84
Risdon - Scherer (except Sanborn, Forest)

Box 5: 85
Sanborn, Forest

Box 6: 86
School groups

Box 6: 87
Schoonmaker - Starbuck

Box 6: 88
Stein - Thompson (except Still, James)

Box 6: 89
Still, James

Box 6: 90
Theroux, Paul
Box 6: 91
Theroux, Paul
Box 6: 92-93
Torell - Virginia Quarterly (except re: The Trouble With Francis and Tunnel Press)

Box 6: 94
The Trouble With Francis

Box 6: 95
Tunnel Press

Box 6: 96
re: "Two Days Among the Feeble Minded"

Box 6: 97
U of Massachusetts Press

Box 6: 98-99
U of Massachusetts Press (L. Stein - M. Moore)
Box 6: 100
Visual Education - Walcott

Box 6: 101
Warren, Gretchen

Box 6: 102
Warren, Gretchen

Box 7: 103
Wesleyan U. Press

Box 7: 104
Wesleyan U. Press - Worrel
Box 7: 105
Yoken Young

Box 7: 106
Robert Francis' Christmas cards

Box 7: 107
Poems written for Robert Francis

Box 7: 108
Poems written for Robert Francis

Box 7: 109
Poems written for Robert Francis

Box 7: 110
Series 3. Poetry

Arranged chronologically.

Stand With Me Here: proofs
Box 8: 111
Valhalla and Other Poems: proofs
Box 8: 112
The Sound I Listened For: proofs
Box 8: 113
Valhalla and Other Poems, The Sound I Listened For: Reviews
1938, 1944
Box 8: 114
The Face Against the Glass: proofs
Box 8: 115
The Orb Weaver: proofs
Box 8: 116
We Fly Away, Face Against the Glass, The Orb Weaver: reviews
1948, 1950, 1960
Box 8: 117
Come Out into the Sun: galley proofs
Box 8: 118
Come Out into the Sun: proofs with author's corrections
Box 8: 119
Come Out into the Sun: proofs
Box 8: 120
Come Out into the Sun: reviews
Box 8: 121
Like Ghosts of Eagles: worksheets of poems
Box 8: 122
Like Ghosts of Eagles: Poems 1966-74: typescript with author's manuscript alterations
Box 8: 123
Like Ghosts of Eagles: Poems 1966-74: mss. and reader's evaluation
Box 8: 124
Like Ghosts of Eagles: Poems 1966-74: mock-up
Box 8: 125
Like Ghosts of Eagles: Poems 1966-74: proofs
Box 9: 126
Like Ghosts of Eagles: Poems 1966-74: reviews and comments
Box 9: 127
Collected Poems: worksheets
Box 9: 128
Collected Poems: worksheets
Box 9: 129
Collected Poems: original unpublished preface
Box 9: 130
Collected Poems: proofs
Box 9: 131
Collected Poems: proofs
Box 9: 132-33
Collected Poems: proofs
Box 10: 134-36
Collected Poems: reviews
Box 10: 137
Journals with Robert Francis' poems
Box 10: 138
Field: journal celebrating Robert Francis' birthday
Box 10: 139
The Hollins Critic: special issue on RF
Box 10: 140
Misc. offprints, photocopies of published poems
Box 11: 141
Misc. offprints, photocopies of published poems
Box 11: 142
Miscellaneous worksheets
Box 11: 143
Miscellaneous worksheets
Box 11: 144
Father Gander Rhymes
Box 11: 145
"Seagulls": signed typescript
Box 11: 146
Poems by Robert Francis' students
Box 11: 147
Robert Francis' comments on poetic theory
Box 11: 148
Notes on geographical locations of poems
Box 11: 149
Series 4. Non-fiction

Arranged chronologically.

The Satirical Rogue: source materials
Box 12: 150
The Satirical Rogue: essays in Field
Box 12: 151
The Satirical Rogue: proofs of 1964 and1968 printings
1964, 1968
Box 12: 152
The Satirical Rogue: reviews
Box 12: 153
The Trouble with Francis: author's notes
Box 12: 154
The Trouble with Francis: "Soybeans for Walden" typescript
Box 12: 155
The Trouble with Francis: "Todo and the Mantises": material related to
Box 12: 156
The Trouble with Francis: original typescript with author's alterations
Box 12: 157
The Trouble with Francis: carbon copy of final typescript, chapters 1-12
Box 12: 158
The Trouble with Francis: carbon copy of final typescript, chapters 13-17 and index (two drafts)
Box 12: 159
The Trouble with Francis: reviews
Box 12: 160
The Trouble with Francis: galley proofs with manuscript corrections
Box 13: 161
The Trouble with Francis: author's position on Chapter 17
Box 13: 162
The Trouble with Francis: materials pertaining to J. Still, W. Shumway, R. Gillman
Box 13: 163
The Trouble with Francis: materials pertaining to pp. 63-64
Box 13: 164
The Trouble with Francis: materials interleaved in author's copy (list attached)
Box 13: 165-169
The Trouble with Francis: author's copy
Box 13: 170
Frost: A Time to Talk: reader's evaluation
Box 13: 171
Frost: A Time to Talk: page proofs with author's manuscript corrections
Box 13: 172
Frost: A Time to Talk: reviews
Box 13: 173
A Certain Distance: manuscript of the prose items
Box 13: 174
A Certain Distance: reviews
Box 13: 175
Francis On the Spot: working papers
Box 14: 176
Francis On the Spot: mock ups
Box 14: 177
Travelling in Amherst: copy of book
Box 14: 178
Newspaper publications
Box 14: 179
Two Days Among the Feeble Minded: unpublished manuscript
Box 14: 180
"Country Comment" column: selected newsprint copies and carbon manuscripts
Box 14: 181
Philadelphia Forum: newsprint copies and carbon typed version
Box 14: 182
"Home Forum" column: carbon typed manuscripts
Box 14: 183
Christian Science Monitor: newsprint copies of selected essays
Box 14: 184
Christian Science Monitor: author's statement on refusal to publish further columns in CSM
Box 14: 185
"The Satirical Rogue Again": typescript with author's manuscript alterations
Box 14: 186
"The Satirical Rogue Returns": typescript with author's manuscript alterations
Box 14: 187
"A Month in Amherst in the 1920's": drafts, news clippings
Box 15: 188
Misc. publications in journals: typed manuscripts and published versions
Box 15: 189
Misc. publications in journals: carbon typed manuscripts and published versions
Box 15: 190
Publications in various journals
Box 15: 191

Box 15: 192
Series 5. Fiction

Mr. Woodchuck: three chapters of an unfinished novel
Box 15: 193
"What a Witch Told Me": a copy of typescript
Box 15: 194
Series 6. Photographs

Early photos of Robert Francis
Box 16: 195
Photo album (1)
Box 16: 196
American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Box 16: 197
Photo album (2)
Box 16: 198
American Academy, Italy
Box 16: 199
Photo album (3)
Box 16: 200
U of Mass. photo center: contact sheets
Box 16: 201
Allen grandparents
Box 16: 202
Francis grandparents
Box 16: 203
Francis, James, and Francis, Matthew (RF's uncles)
Box 16: 204
Francis, May Allen (RF's mother)
Box 16: 205
Series 7. Recordings

Robert Francis Reads His Poetry: 7 1/2 IPS two track tape

Box 17: 206
Discussion by Doris Abramson, Joseph Langland, Quentin de Streel and Robert Francis of the recently published Like Ghosts of Eagles, broadcast by WFCR, Part I: 7 1/2 IPS two track tape
Box 17: 207
Discussion, Part II: 7 1/2 IPS two track tape
Box 17: 208
Robert Francis reading from his Collected Poems at their publication party, with an introduction by Joe Langland and introductory comments by Francis
Box 17: 209
"Poems to a Listener" -- WFCR broadcast tape of the program and script: 7 1/2 IPS two track tape
Box 17: 210
RF Day, Jones Library

In MS Phonograph Records Box:

Box 17
1. Today's Poets, volume 1: 33 RPM
Box 17
2. Robert Francis Reads His Poems From Like Ghosts of Eagles and Come Out Into the Sun: 33 RPM
Box 17
3. Picasso and Matisse: 33 RPM (and score)
Box 17

Administrative information


The collection is open for research.


The collection was donated to Special Collections and University Archives by Robert Francis between November 1975 and July 1987, along with a collection of his printed works which are now housed in the Rare Books collection. Additions to the collection were subsequently received from Francis' literary executor, Francis Quinn; from the University of Massachusetts Press; and the Tunnel Press in 1977.

Other formats available

Listen to recordings of an interview and poetry reading with Robert Francis conducted by Henry Lyman for WFCR radio in 1977 and 1978.

Processing Information

Processed by Stephanie Welch and Mark Madigan, 1988. The following letters, now interfiled with the Correspondence series, were previously arranged by Robert Francis in a file called "Help asked for and received."

Apodaca, La VerneApril 20, 1980
Brazeau, PeterApril 27, 1978
Cochran, J.March 30, 1980
Haney, PaulaMay 1, 1980
Juscik, Steven.d.
Motts, DonaMay 28, 1980
Norbutt, JohnJanuary 10, 1979 (with response January 22, 1979)
O'Gorman, NedMarch 8, 1980 (with response March 18, 1980)
Quinn, John RobertJuly 22, 1978; July 28, 1978
Richards, Lucie A. (2 copies)March 6, 1979
Sussman, Sherry (with photo of Francis)n.d.
Shetline, Leonard J.May 28, 1978
Tuttle, ClaireSeptember 1978
Liz [?]July 30, 1978

The following letters, now interfiled with the Correspondence series, were previously arranged by Francis in a file called "Letters of appreciation."

Abbe, GeorgeMay 20, 1978
Boyd, CharlesJuly 16, 1977
Brown, RosellenNovember 16 [?]
Brown, RosellenMay 13, 1977
Cate, Edward W.January 22, 1977
Emery, MaryDecember 23, 1977
Faust, PamelaMarch 22, 1980
Hicks, JohnOctober 5, 1976
Howes, JeanneFebruary 12, 1977
Osborne, Marion A.September 6, 1977
Peterson, LaniJanuary 17, 1979
Philbrick, StephenNovember 5 [?]
Rand, Frank L.December 16, 1955
Reidy, P. MichaelSeptember 23, 1977
Rigby, LibbySeptember 27, 1975
Roberts, Haslin CherieAugust 13, 1978
Rosten, NormanDecember 6, 1976
Smith, Nathaniel B.July 29, 1978
Taylor, ThurstonOctober 17, 1977
Tetreault, PhilMay 29, 1979
Yolsen, Melvin B.August 21, 1978
Frank [?]December 16, 1954
Shirley [?]February 2, 1975

The following items, now filed in box 13, folders 165-169, were originally interleaved in the author's copy of The Trouble With Francis in the pages noted below.

Front matterNear East, November 1954
4-5photographs: "Entrance to Market Hill Rd in 1940," "The Old House by the Brook, 1937-38"
12-13photographs (4): "Adamites"
18-19letter to Literary Executor for Robert Frost.
28-29photograph: "Henry King of Flat Hills Road and one of his oxen"
32-33photographs (2): "Forrest Sanborn"
34-35photograph: "Porter Dickinson"
56-57Christmas card (photo of rock.)
64-65photographs "Walter from Brooklyn" & "Lord Wilbur"
70-71photograph: "Richard Gillman at Fort Juniper"
74-75photograph: "Full-grown mantids"
92-93newspaper clippings (3) and photocopies about soybeans
98-99Thanksgiving Dinner menus (8) with photocopies for Fort Juniper
108-109postcard from Rebecca Richmond of Chautauqua Writer's Institute
116-117photographs (2): "Pasquino, Rome" & "Trattoria Pasquino"
118-119newspaper clippings about late birthday card with photocopies; birthday card delayed in mail nearly 30 years.
122-123Christmas card from Francis Gillespie; postcard of Tyrellspass; vacation brochure
136-137photographs: "Ferris Pemberton" & "Baptist Church, Greenport, NY"
142-143photographs: "Aunt Addie" & "Aunt Nell" (2)
150-151photographs: "James Allen Francis" & "West Medford Baptist Church"
156-157offprint of Matthew Francis photograph postcard: "Tower in Lawrence Fels, West Medford"
158-159photograph: [?]
162-163photograph: Pat Francis [cat]
178-179letter concerning Francis' illness
180-181photographs: "Miss Phelan's house, Cambridge, Mass." (2), "Fellow inmate" (2)
182-183news clipping, Harvard Alumni Bulletin 5/13/50
184-185letter of appointment to American University of Beirut, 3/21/23
186-187photograph: RF with students in Beirut; carbon of letter from Dr. F.J. McIntyre
188-189letters (2) from Bancroft Beatley; news clipping and news photo of Harvard
192-193photograph: "Theodore Ward"; typescript epitaph for Theodore Ward
196-197photographs: "Schoonmaker family"; [?]
198-199photographs (2): "Hildegard"
200-201photograph: "Frost's house on Sunset Avenue"
204-205photographs: "Jones Library" (2); "Prof. Arthur John Hopkins" [?]
218-219Harvard Divinity School news clipping; letter to Harvard Divinity School

See also Regina Codey Papers (MS 314), and Arthur E. Niedeck collection (MS 295), audio tapes of readings. Additional collections of Robert Francis's papers are located at Syracuse University and the Jones Library in Amherst.

Separated Material

The following books and broadsides by Francis -- nearly a complete set of his works -- have been transferred for storage with the Rare Book collections:

  • Gusto, thy name was Mrs. Hopkins : a prose rhapsody. Toronto : Chartres Books, c1988. 49 p. : 2 ports. ; 23 cm. "A Gordon Lawson McLennan edition".
  • Butter Hill, and other poems. [Springfield, Mass.] : Ardsley Press, c1984. [30] p. : ill. ; 23 cm. "Four hundred numbered copies . This book is number 196."
  • The satirical rogue on all fronts. [S.l.] : Paul W. Carman, c1984. [34] p. : port. ; 23 cm. "Four hundred numbered copies of The satirical rogue on all fronts, a collection of unpublished pieces, have been privately printed on Mohawk Superfine by Paul W. Carman at the Ardsley Press . The first 75 copies have been specially bound and are signed by Robert Francis with an extra signed poem. This book is number 22."
  • Founder's day talk, Jones Library, September 14, 1980. [Amherst, Mass., 1980]. [1], 6, [1] p. 21 cm. Edition of two hundred and fifty copies. Signed: Robert Francis. "This is No. 18."
  • Pot shots at poetry. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1980. xiii, 220 p. ; 21 cm.
  • Clarification of God. [S.l. : s.n., 198-]. 10 p. ; 23 cm.
  • W H-M, a poem, carved, with decorative border. Amherst, Mass., The Epoh Studio, 1976] Untitled; first line: To him my birches. Printed in green and yellow. Captioned in pencil at bottom by Wang Hui-Ming: W H-M, Poem by Robert Francis [Signed] '76. Initialed in pencil by author, bottom left. Published, without border, in New letters, v. 42, no. 4, summer 1976, p. 53.
  • Bluejay. [Easthampton, Mass., The Pennyroyal Press, 1976]. broadside. illus. 19 x 14 cm. "150 copies printed at Pennyroyal by B. Moser April 1976." On blue paper, and signed by the artist, Barry Moser; copy 2, on white paper, is not signed.
  • A certain distance. Woods Hole, Mass. : Pourboire Press, 1976. 4 p. l., 40 p. ; 21 cm. "This edition consists of six hundred copies of which one hundred are hardcovers, numbered and signed by the author on his seventy-fifth birthday." Special Collections' copy labeled PS3511.R237 C4 1976 is in paper covers, and has a typewritten "nineteen" pasted over the printed "twenty one." Special Collections' copy labeled PS3511.R237 C4 1976b is no. 82, signed, and the "twenty one" in the dedication is not corrected.
  • Chrysanthemums. [Amherst] ; University of Massachusetts Press, 1976. 1 broadside : col. ill. ; 29 x 27 cm. Limited ed. of 100 copies, signed by poet and artist. Illustrated with a wood engraving by Barry Moser. Printed in black and brown. The woodcut is hand-colored. Artist Barry Moser's signed autograph presentation inscription, dated: 19 April 1976. Copy 2, printed on different stock, is not colored, and is not signed.
  • Collected poems, 1936-1976. Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1976. 285 p. ; 24 cm. "The book is graced with eight wood engravings by Wang Hui-Min."
  • Francis on the spot : an interview with Robert Francis by Philip Tetreault and Kathy Sewalk-Karcher. Portage, Pa. : Tunnel Press ; Woonsocket, R.I., c1976. 2 p. l., 3-31, [1] p. : ill., ports. ; 22 cm. Gob poetry pamphlet ; no. 4. Three hundred copies printed.
  • Hide-and-seek. [Middletown, Conn.] : Wesleyan University Press, 1976. 1 broadside : ill. ; 30 x 23 cm. Poem. At end of text: Robert Francis. Illustration by Barry Moser. On verso: . Copyrighted] Wesleyan University Press, printed at Pennyroyal, April, 1976. First line: Here where the dead lie hidden. Edition 150. Signed by both poet and the artist." - cf. Publisher's brochure. Unsigned copy - a proof copy.
  • November. [Amherst] : University of Massachusetts Press, [1976]. 1 broadside : ill. ; 27 x 23 cm. Limited ed. of 100 copies. "April 1976." Illustrated with a wood engraving by Barry Moser . Printed on Japanese vellum in two colors [black and brown] Edition 100 . Signed by both the poet and the artist." - cf. Publisher's brochure. Unsigned copy - a proof copy?
  • Like ghosts of eagles: poems, 1966-1974. Drawings by Jack Coughlin. [Amherst, Mass.] University of Massachusetts Press [1974]. 68 p. illus. 21 cm.
  • Robert Frost: a time to talk: conversations and indiscretions recorded by Robert Francis.. [London]: Robson Books, [1973, c1972]. 3 p. l., 3-100 p. incl. front. : (port.) ; 24 cm. "First published in Great Britain in 1973." First American edition, 1972, published with title: Frost; a time to talk.
  • Frost: a time to talk: conversations and indiscretions recorded by Robert Francis. [Amherst]: University of Massachusetts Press [1972]. 100 p. 24 cm.
  • The land on the tip of a hair; poems in wood. Selected and carved by Wang Hui-ming. [Amherst, Mass., Printed at the Epoh Studio, 1972]. 1 portfolio ([40] l.) 32 cm. Fifty copies. "This is copy number A/P [Signed]" Includes The righteous, The peacock, Exemplary, Prescription, and A fear, by Robert Francis. With Wang's signed autograph presentation inscription to Robert Francis.
  • The trouble with Francis; an autobiography. [Amherst]: University of Massachusetts Press, 1971. 246 p. illus., maps, ports. 24 cm.
  • Six poems. [Montague, Mass.] : Sawmill Press, 1970. [8] l., [4] leaves of plates) ; 20 x 26 cm. "The text . printed by Deborah and Richard Hendel, etchings by Jack Coughlin. This is an edition of fifty numbered copies and ten artist's proof copies. This is number Artist's Proof." Each plate signed by the artist. Vignette in green. In portfolio, 20 x 26 cm.
  • Come out into the sun. [Amherst, Mass., The University of Massachusetts Press, 1969]. 1 broadsheet. illus. 24 x 16 cm., fold. On verso: Greetings 1969. The University of Massachusetts Press. Autographed.
  • [The satirical rogue on poetry : first magazine appearances of essays intended to form the second series, not yet published in book form]. [1969-19 ]. v.
  • Come out into the sun; poems new and selected. [Amherst] University of Massachusetts Press [1968, c1965]. 7 p. l., 3-143 p. 22 x 16 cm. "Second Printing, 1968."
  • Like ghosts of eagles. First magazine appearances of poems later published in the book. [v.p., 1968-74]. 12 nos. 19-29 cm.
  • The satirical rogue on poetry. [Amherst]: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968. 123 p. 21 cm. Special Collections' copy 2 has laid in publisher's review copy slip, and The Satirical Rogue, by Robert Francis, reprinted from the Massachusetts Review, vol. 6, no. 3, Spring-Summer, 1965, signed in red: "Christmas cheer! Robert."
  • The orb weaver. Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press [1967]. 5 p. l., 3-63 p. 21 x 16 cm. "First printing, January, 1960 . Third printing, February, 1967."
  • Come out into the sun; poems new and selected. [Amherst] University of Massachusetts Press [1965]. 143 p. 23 cm.
  • The satirical rogue. [Amherst, Mass., 1965]. [16] p. 23 cm. Caption title. "Reprinted from The Massachusetts review, Volume 6, No. 3, Spring-Summer, 1965," p. 451-466. Signed autograph presentation inscription: Christmas cheer! Robert. Laid in his The satirical rogue on poetry, Amherst, Mass., The University of Massachusetts Press, 1968, copy 2.
  • The orb weaver; poems. Middletown, Conn., Wesleyan University Press [1960]. 63 p. 21 cm.
  • Rome without camera : a talk. Amherst, Mass. : Jones Library, c1958. 13 p. ; 23 cm. Cover title. "Founder's Day, October 15, 1958." Edition of one hundred copies. "This is No. 96."
  • What a witch told me. [Chautauqua, N.Y., 1956]. [9] p. 22 x 10 cm. "This parable was written by the instructor, Robert Francis, for the Poetry division of the Chautauqua Writers' Workshop, 1956, and published by its members ."
  • The face against the glass, poems. Amherst, Mass. Published by the author, 1950. 44 p. 20 cm. This edition has been limited to three hundred copies. "This copy is number 119."
  • We fly away. New York, : Morrow, c1948. 155 p. ; 20 cm. Double title page. UMass Amherst Special Collections copy 1: Gift of E. Porter Dickinson, with author's autograph presentation inscription on front fly-leaf, "For Porter Dickinson / from friend Bob / September 1948". In dj, with several related newsclippings laid in. Copy 2: Gift of Mrs. Frank Prentice Rand, with author's autograph presentation inscription on front fly-leaf, "For the Rands of Mount Pleasant / with warm greetings / from Robert Francis / 1948", and a review of the book, by F[rank] P. R[and], extracted from the Amherst Record, September 30, 1948, mounted inside the front cover. Tipped onto half-title is a TLS to F.P.R. dated: The Johnson Homestead, Shelburne Falls, September 30, 1948, in which the author thanks him for the review.
  • The sound I listened for. New York : The Macmillan Company, 1944. xi, 79 p. 21 cm. "First printing."
  • The sound I listened for. Amherst, Mass. : R. Francis, 1943. 63 p. ; 20 cm. Special Collections' copy 2 has author's signed autograph presentation inscription to the Rands inside front cover.
  • Valhalla : and other poems. New York : The Macmillan Company, 1938. [i]-viii p., 1., 1-133 [1]p. ; 20.4 cm. First printing. Bound in light gray cloth; printed paper labels on front cover and spine. Dust jacket. Signed by the author. Special Collections' copy 2 is autographed on front fly-leaf, which also has a mounted photograph of the author. Two other photographs of him are laid in, as is his "Come out into the sun," signed The University of Massachusetts Press Greetings 1969, and his "Mr. Eliot's day," extracted from The New Yorker, issue of August 1, 1953, p. 27. Mounted inside front cover is his poem, "Good night near Christmas" [Amherst, Mass.] Christmas 1938, and tipped onto the verso of half-title is a TLS to Mrs. [Frank P.] Rand, dated: August 4, 66.
  • Stand with me here. New York : The Macmillan Company, 1936. [i-x] p., 1., 3-83 [1]p., 1. ; 20.3 cm. First printing. Bound in green cloth; stamped in gold. Dust jacket. Signed by the author. Special Collections' copy 1 is autographed on half-title page. Laid in Special Collections' copy 2 is a TLS to Frank Rand, dated: Fort Juniper, Amherst, Mass., August 31, 1945.




Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Copyright and Use (More information )

Cite as: Robert Francis Papers (MS 403). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms


  • Poetics.
  • Amherst (Mass.)
  • Brown, Rosellen.
  • Ciardi, John, 1916-
  • De Vries, Peter.
  • Fitts, Dudley, 1903-
  • Francis, Robert, 1901-1987 -- Bibliography.
  • Francis, Robert, 1901-1987.
  • Hall, Donald, 1928-
  • Humphries, Rolfe.
  • Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972.
  • Moss, Howard, 1922-
  • Poetry -- Publishing.
  • Poets -- Massachusetts -- Amherst.
  • Shawn, Ted, 1891-1972.
  • Theroux, Paul.
  • University of Massachusetts Press.
  • Wilbur, Richard, 1921-


  • Francis, Robert, 1901-1987 [main entry]

Genres and formats

  • Audiotapes.
  • Photographs.
  • Phonograph records.

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