Robert Francis Collection


Robert Francis Collection


Robert Churchill Francis (1901-1987) moved to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1926 to teach high school English. The teaching job lasted a single year; writing became his life's work. Francis was the recipient of numerous awards and honors throughout his writing career including the Golden Rose of the New England Poetry Club (1942-43), and fellowships from Breadloaf (1936), the American Academy in Rome (1957-58), and the Academy of American Poets (1984). He is best known for his volumes of poetry and his numerous contributions to journals and magazines. His first book, Stand With Me Here, was published in 1936. The last book to be published during his lifetime was Traveling in Amherst: A Poet's Journal (1986). 

Four years after Francis's death in 1987, the trustees of his estate transferred his personal archives to The Jones Library. The collection includes letters, typescripts, galley proofs and published works (including signed first editions), anthologies, poems and essays in periodicals, photographs, and audio and video recordings.

Collection Items

"Library Resumes Poetry Readings After 15-Year Lapse" newspaper clipping
A newspaper clipping describes a poetry reading by Robert Francis to take place on September 11 at the Jones Library. The reading was jointly sponsored by The Jones Library and the University of Massachusetts Press in celebration of the poet's new…

Letter from Robert Francis to William Merrill, July 14, 1958
Letter from Robert Francis to William Merrill, Director of The Jones Library, regarding plans for Founders Day.

Young Robert Francis in suit and tie
Upper body shot of Robert Francis in a suit and tie, wearing glasses, and with his arms behind his head.

Jones Library bookmark featuring Robert Francis' poem, "Balance"
The bookmark from The Jones Library features the library's hours, including the hours for the Special Collections department, as well as a poem, "Balance," by Robert Francis.

"A Celebration in Honor of the 85th Birthday of Poet Robert Francis" press release
The press release describes the event for Robert Francis at The Jones Library on August 12, 1986 celebrating the poet's 85th birthday. Richard Wilbur, Henry Lyman, Joseph Langland, and Andrew Salkey were among those scheduled to read the poems of…

Robert Francis and his family
Photograph of Robert Francis and family members sitting at a table outside under trellises. Francis' father Ebenezer F. Francis and stepmother Ida May Allen Francis are sitting across from Robert (fourth from left).

Robert Francis on the praying mantis
Amherst poet Robert Francis discusses his fascination with and study of the praying mantis. Includes an anecdote about Robert Frost visiting Francis and remarking that the praying mantis shows "so clearly what it is in nature that you don't like."

Robert Francis on his philosophy of eating
Amherst poet Robert Francis discusses his four point policy, or philosophy, with regards to eating and food.

Robert Francis on earning his living as a poet
Amherst poet Robert Francis responds to the question of whether he earns a living entirely from poetry.

Robert Francis on his parents
Amherst poet Robert Francis discusses the influence of his parents on his own character and how the contrasting temperaments combined to make him a poet.

Robert Francis on his poem, Two Women
Amherst poet Robert Francis reads his poem, Two Women, and then discusses the different ways the last line could be read.

Robert Francis on his stone man
Robert Francis talks about his 'found art' that he calls an eolith palladium, a stone that he turned into art in his backyard.

Robert Francis on humor in his poetry
Amherst poet Robert Francis responds to the question, "How important is humor to your poems?" and talks about how poetry and humor are closely related as both surprise you with unexpected combinations.

Robert Francis reads his poem, Orb Weaver
Amherst poet Robert Francis reads his poem, Orb Weaver, while in his home, Fort Juniper.

Robert Francis reads his poem, Bulldozer
Amherst poet Robert Francis reads his poem, Bulldozer, in his home, Fort Juniper
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