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Robinson Jeffers collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 284

Scope and Contents

The Robinson Jeffers Collection encompasses accessions of single manuscripts, small groups of manuscripts, and other papers pertaining to Robinson Jeffers, acquired by the library from a variety of sources. Materials incorporated into this collection have been organized into three series documenting the gifts of John Hay Whitney, Robert M. Leylan, and materials from other sources. The collection spans the years 1922-1951, with the bulk of material dating from 1922-1933.

The bulk of the collection consists of manuscript drafts of Jeffers’ early narrative and lyrical poems. The John Hay Whitney Gift materials contain significant annotation and are inscribed with descriptive and analytical commentary. Additionally, a single folded sheet labeled “Genesis of Tamar,” includes plans for the stairway of the tower at Tor House. The Robert M. Leylan Gift includes full drafts of shorter poems and passages from longer and unidentified poems. The third series, Materials from Other Sources, incorporates a typescript copy of a study of the poetry of Robinson Jeffers by Howard Trivers and annotated by Robert M. Leylan.

The limited correspondence in each series includes letters from Robinson and Una Jeffers, the book dealer Barnet B. Ruder, and the Jeffers bibliographer S. S. Alberts, concerning the various manuscript materials.


  • 1920 - 1951
  • Majority of material found within 1920 - 1933


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Microfilm available for portions of the John Hay Whitney Gift including Autograph manuscript of "Cawdor" (Film #2777) and Manuscripts of "Roan stallion," "The tower beyond tragedy," and an unpublished poem (Film #903)

Conditions Governing Use

The Robinson Jeffers Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by gift and purchase, 1949-2004.


Organized into four series: I. John Hay Whitney Gift, II. Robert M. Leylan Gift, III. Materials from Other Sources. IV. 2004 Addition.

Associated Materials

Photographs of Robinson Jeffers (Za J355 +G1), Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Pamphlets by and about Robinson Jeffers, including newspaper clippings and other ephemera (Za J355 +1), Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


1.67 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The collection consists of manuscripts of Robinson Jeffers's poetry and a small amount of correspondence and other papers related to Jeffers.

Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) was born John Robinson Jeffers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of the Reverend Dr. William Hamilton Jeffers and Annie Robinson Tuttle. He was educated by his father and at European boarding schools. In 1902, Jeffers entered the University of Western Pennsylvania (now the University of Pittsburgh), but was graduated from Occidental College, California, three years later. He pursued graduate studies in literature and philosophy at the Universities of Southern California and Zurich, before enrolling in the Medical School at the University of Southern California in September 1907. In 1910 he left medical school to study forestry for one year at the University of Washington.

While studying at the University of Southern California, Jeffers met Una Call Kuster, the wife of a prominent Los Angeles attorney. Their involvement and Kuster’s ensuing divorce was a public scandal that was widely reported. Jeffers and Kuster were married in 1913 and one year later settled in Carmel, California where Jeffers eventually built the stone cottage and tower he called “Tor House.” A daughter was born in 1914 but died in infancy; twin sons were born in 1916. In 1912 Jeffers privately published his first volume of poetry, Flagons and Apples. In 1916 his second volume, Californians, was commercially published. Tamar and Other Poems (1924), his third volume, proved both a formal and critical breakthrough and was reissued in an expanded edition the following year under the title Roan Stallion, Tamar and other Poems. Over a period encompassing five decades, Jeffers published nearly two-dozen volumes of poetry. In 1954 he published his last volume, Hungerfield and Other Poems, an expanded edition of his Hungerfield (1952) which included a eulogy for Una Jeffers who died in 1950. A volume of Jeffers’ uncollected poems, The Beginning and the End and Other Poems, was published posthumously in 1963.

Processing Information

Former call numbers: Za Jeffers and Uncat MSS 689.

Most of the descriptive information used in the inventory of this finding aid was derived from folder notes and catalog cards created by previous staff members of the Beinecke Library.

Guide to the Robinson Jeffers Collection
by Christopher Geissler, Tom Hyry, and Beinecke Staff
May 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.