Introduction Biography Selected Works History of Gardiner Location Map Bibliography


A constant stream of visitors to Gardiner, Maine, inquire at the Gardiner Public Library about the places in the city associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson. Accordingly, the purpose of this tour guide is to give basic information about the poet Robinson and the principal places in this community where such visitors can glimpse the Tilbury Town of Robinson’s life and poetry.

This reference guide started to take shape in the spring of 2000 when one of the foremost literary biographers of our time announced his intention to write the first new Robinson biography in forty years. He is Scott Donaldson, biographer of Ernest Hemingway, Archibald McLeish, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Walking in the footsteps of the subject of a biography is essential. Gathering of facts is one thing, but to relate them in a spatial and temporal setting is quite another thing. I was called upon to provide Dr. Donaldson with as many local references as possible from newspaper files, documents on file at the Gardiner Public Library, and records of the county court house and state archives. Then the good professor announced the day he would travel to Tilbury Town to see the sights.

I arranged a list of two dozen sites into a circuit so as to fit everything into one day. I mounted photographs of the sites in plastic sleeves lest time be lost. We did as much of the circuit on foot as possible so that places would not dissolve into one blur. We started early one August morning. Only darkness brought our peregrination to a halt. Representative Stephen Hanley and his wife Sheila graciously opened the Robinson-Hanley home. Dr. Donaldson and I poked our noses through every nook and cranny from attic to cellar.

Dr. Donaldson’s Edwin Arlington Robinson: A Poet’s Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) is outstanding. Also in February 2007 Knopf in the Everyman Library series will publish an anthology of Robinson’s poems edited by Dr. Donaldson. Robert L. Gale, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, published recently An Edwin Arlington Robinson Encyclopedia (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006).

A sense of Gardiner’s community history is instilled throughout the Robinson biography, not only the early years of the poet’s life, but Gardiner never left the poet as witness the Tilbury Town characters that appeared throughout the twenty-eight volumes of Robinson’s poetry.

Found in this website is a brief Robinson biography setting the stage for twenty-four sites in the greater Gardiner community, a bibliography of his writings, a bibliography of books about him and his poetry, and a sketch of the community history within the context of Robinson’s life. These provide essential background for twenty-four sites that evoke the poet’s spirit.

Anne E. Davis, Director of the Gardiner Public Library, envisioned the importance of this reference guide when she saw the documents I compiled for Dr. Donaldson. Jerome Maschino photographed the sites. Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr., Maine State Historian, reviewed the text and suggested that we use material that appeared in our Gardiner on the Kennebec (1996) Thanks to volunteers at the library. Patricia Burdick, Curator of Special Collections at Colby College, granted permission to reproduce two portraits. Robinson’s grandniece, F. Elizabeth Calloway, donated many family photographs, relics, and documents to the Gardiner Library Association’s Special Collections. David S. Nivison, grandnephew of the poet and trustee of the Robinson estate, gave permission to publish the selected poetry and rendered advice.

Janet Bolduc, technology librarian, at Gardiner Public Library, helped me during the scanning of the historic images. Glenna G. Nowell served as one of the readers of the final revision of the text. Daniel W. Bates rendered invaluable copyediting and legal advice during the concluding weeks of the website development. And finally, Matt Noyes of Studio MN, rendered an outstanding layout and design services in the production of this website.

Danny D. Smith
Chairman, Special Collections Committee
Gardiner Library Association

Table of Contents

Biography of Edwin Arlington Robinson
Robinson in the Context of the History of Gardiner, Maine
Bibliography of Publications by and about Edwin Arlington Robinson
Sites in Gardiner, Maine, Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson
My Tilbury Town and James S. Barstow
Lilla Cabot Perry and portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson
Cultural Links

© 2006 by Danny D. Smith: "Edwin Arlington Robinson: An American Poet (1869-1935), A Virtual Tour of Robinson's Gardiner, Maine." This text includes Introduction, Biography of Edwin Arlington Robinson, Robinson in the Context of the History of Gardiner, Maine, Bibliography of Publications by and about Edwin Arlington Robinson, Sites in Gardiner, Maine Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson (twenty-four sections), My Tilbury Town and James S. Barstow, and Lilla Cabot Perry and the Portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson, and the photograph of Lizzie Austin.
© 2006 by Jerome Maschino: Eighteen header photographs for Sites in Gardiner, Maine, Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson (Sites 3, 6-19, 22-24). Also photograph of the South Face of the Cemetery Monument in Site 13.
© 2006 by the Estate of Edwin Arlington Robinson twenty-four poems that appear in Sites in Gardiner, Maine, Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson. Grateful acknowledgment is here expressed to David S. Nivison, Ph.D., representative of the estate and grandnephew of Edwin Arlington Robinson.
© 2006 by the Gardiner Library Association historical images: "Principal Personages" in the Biography, Daughters of Herman and Members of Quadruped Club in Site 1, Emma Robinson in Site 4, Group Portrait and Portrait of Laura E. Richards in Site 7, Text of Rosalind Richards' Interview in Site 8, High School Diploma and Graduation Photograph in Site 9, Two nineteenth-century images of the Robinson House in Site 11, Photograph of Dr. Schumann in Site 15, Photograph of Kate Vannah in Site 17, Two group portraits and image of monument within text in site 17, Photographs of Herman and Emma Robinson in Site 24, and annotated draft from Laura E. Richards' account of Tilbury (Yellow House Papers).

© 2006 Special Collections, Miller Library, Colby College: Portrait of Edwin Arlington Robinson by Lilla Cabot Perry and portrait of Captain Israel Jordan.

© 2006 Danny D. Smith and Earle G. Shettleworth, Jr.: captions and other text that previously appeared in Gardiner on the Kennebec (1996).

©2006 Gardiner Public Library: Header photograph in Site 5.

©2006 Dorothy Washburne: Header photographs for Sites in Gardiner, Maine,
Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson (Sites 1, 2, 4, 20)

©2006 Studio MN: Header photograph for Visitor Information Page,
Associated with Edwin Arlington Robinson

Other images in the public domain have been supplied by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

A Virtual Tour of Robinson's Gardiner, Maine

Home | Introduction | The Life of EA Robinson | Selected Works | Maps
| Contextual History | Contact | Bibliography | Cultural Links

This website is maintained by the Gardiner Public Library
152 Water Street, Gardiner, Maine 04345, and the Gardiner Library Association.

This website is sponsored by the Kennebec-Chaudière Heritage Commission and Maine Humanities Council,
the J. W. Robinson Welfare Trust Fund, the Gardiner Library Association, and the Gardiner Board of Trade.

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