Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

Robert Francis Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: RT
Date: 24 Jan 1969

Biographical History

Robert Francis (1901-1987) was an American poet and author. Born in Upland, Pennsylvania in 1901, the son of Ebenezer Francis, a minister, his childhood was spent in towns in New Jersey and New York states until 1910, when the family moved to Massachusetts. Francis graduated from Harvard College (B.A., 1923) and then taught in the preparatory school of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, for a year. He returned to attend Harvard University, where he received an Ed. M., followed by a year of teaching high school English in Amherst (1926).

Francis began writing "with a view to publication" about the time he moved to Amherst. By living economically and by doing all his own chores, he has been able to live without salaried positions and to devote much of his time to writing. He held occasional positions as a violin teacher, as an English teacher at Mount Holyoke College, and as a teacher at summer writers' conferences. In 1940, Francis moved alone in a one-man house called Fort Juniper, in Amherst, Massachusetts and subsequently adopted the juniper as his "coat-of- arms."

Francis received numerous awards over his career, including the Shelly Memorial Award and the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club. He held fellowships at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and in Rome from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His poems have appeared in Saturday Review, The New Yorker, Forum, Yankee, and other national literary magazines. His prose works include We Fly Away (1948), The Satirical Rogue on Poetry (1968), and The Trouble With Francis (1971). His six volumes of poetry include Come Out Into the Sun (1965), The Orb Weaver (1960), The Face Against the Glass (1950), The Sound I Listened For (1943, 1944), Valhalla and Other Poems (1938), and Stand With Me Here (1936). Other works include Rome Without Camera (1958) and What a Witch Told Me (1956).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Robert Francis Papers contain biographical material, correspondence, writings, and recordings. Notices of awards for Mr. Francis's poetry, published material about personal appearances, biographical material, 1939-1967.

Correspondence, 1926-1966, comprised of exchanges between Mr. Francis and his fellow-writers, includes both incoming and outgoing. Here are letters to critics, words of congratulation and criticism about Mr. Francis's books of poetry, and personal letters between friends. Important correspondents include American Academy of Arts and Letters, Borestone Mountain Poetry Awards, Gerald Warner Brace, Robert Frost, John Holmes, Houghton Mifflin Company, Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, The Massachusetts Review, Theodore Morrison, David Morton, New England Poetry Club, and Mary P. Sears Trust.

Writings, 1936-1967, consist of notes, original typescripts of individual poems, printed versions of the poems, book reviews, essays, non-fiction, poetry, and one item about Francis. Most of the writings are worksheets of poems revised by the author; also included are printed versions of some of the poem and notes about the revisions and publication of the poems. Essays, 1940-1953, consist of newspaper clippings taken from the "Home Forum Page" of the Christian Science Monitor, including fan mail about particular essays. A list of this correspondence, with dates, may be found in the first folder in Box 1. Non-fiction includes articles printed about literary subjects, 1963-1967. Poetry, 1947-1966, contains an alphabetical listing of poems, either in typescript or printed form, which were not included in any of Mr. Francis's volumes.

Published material contains issues of Forum and a copy of the Official Register of Harvard University, vol. XLII, no. 2. Three Tape recordings are of Mr. Francis reading his own poetry.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is subdivided into incoming and outgoing, each arranged alphabetically. Writings are arranged alphabetically by type and within that by title; writings about Francis appear at the end of this series. Most of the writings are worksheets of poems revised by the author; these are arranged alphabetically under the title of the book in which the poems appeared, as are printed versions of some of the poems. Notes about the revisions and publication of the poems are filed with the poem, though in some cases these notes were grouped together and called "Histories" by the author. Published material is arranged alphabetically. The oversize package of tape recordings is in no particular order.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Francis, Robert, 1901-1987 -- Archives.
Frost, Robert, 1874-1963.
Holmes, John Clellon, 1926-
Morrison, Theodore, 1901-


American poetry -- 20th century.
Authors, American.
Poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Robert Francis Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Robert Francis, 1968 and 1969.

Table of Contents

Biographical material



Published material

Tape recordings