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Jeffers at Occidental College

The Poetry

Jeffers' Fascinating Friends and Family

The Controversial Life of the Poet

Organizations Dedicated to the Man and his Poetry

Other Online Exhibits


    

"If you should look for this place after a handful
of lifetimes:
Perhaps of my planted forest a few
May stand yet, dark-leaved Australians or the coast cypress, haggard
With storm-drift; but fire and the axe are devils.
Look for foundations of sea-worn granite, my fingers had the art
To make stone love stone, you will find some remnant."

            - Jeffers, from Tor House

 

Visiting Tor House:
Robin's Family, Friends, Acquaintances and Those He Influenced

 

  Una Jeffers
Family
Haig the house-dog
George Sterling
Edgar Lee Master
Edna St. Vincent Milay
Jake Zeitlin
Albert Bender
Lawrence Clark Powell
Ward Ritchie
Remsen Bird
Edward Weston
Ansel Adams
William Everson
Mark Jarman

John Young-Hunter

Click a link on the left to see the description of the individual and their relationship to Jeffers

During his long career, Jeffers and his Carmel home were at the center of a small, yet notable, group of California literati. His home was was also a destination for visiting artists and intellectuals. Famous friends often visited the renowned Tor House, outside of Carmel. In his poetic work, Jeffers was carrying on the tradition of California poet George Sterling. Jeffers' influence lives on in a new generation of poets and artists. Photographs accompany all descriptions, except that of Albert Bender.


   

 





Una Jeffers

Una Jeffers was married to Robinson. Theirs was a passionate and devoted relationship, which lasted to the end of each of their lives. Una was a major force behind Jeffers' creative output and she was a fascinating figure in her own right. The Ward Ritchie press published a book of her writings during a trip to Ireland called Visits to Ireland. Its prose is rich and original and the volume is illustrated by respected wood block printer and illustrator Paul Landacre. Una was a fiercely independent, courageous woman. She was the manager behind Jeffers' artistic work and public life. Stories about her life abound; and it is said that prior to marrying Jeffers she was a well-known racecar driver in Southern California. A biography, Of Una Jeffers, was written by Edith Greenan in 1939. It was recently reissued by The Story Line Press in 1998.




 


Una
Robin's Wife

  Family
Jeffers' and Una had twin sons, Garth and Donnan, with whom he spent much time. They went on to have families of their own, many of whom still live near the California coast.

 


Donnan and Garth- The Jeffers' Boys
On a trip to Ireland

  Haig the House Dog aka Haig of Bermsyde
Haig was an English bulldog that was a beloved member of the Jeffers family. One of Jeffers saddest, most beautiful poems was written after the dog's death, entitled "House Dog's Grave."

 



Haig the House Dog

  George Sterling
Before Jeffers he was California's unofficial poet laureate. He wrote the first Jeffers' biography and a critical review which truly launched Jeffers poetic career. He and Jeffers were the best of friends until Sterling's death, which Jeffers' honored in verse.

 

 

 


Jeffers and George Sterling
Una noted on the back  that she had never seen Jeffers look so dignified or Sterling look like so much of a thug

  Edgar Lee Masters
The famous poet was a friend of Robin and was one of the most notable contemporary admirers of Jeffers' poetry.

 

 

 


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 Edgar Lee Masters (far left) with Jeffers
(Also pictured: Wilshire, the famous Los Angeles philanthropist and businessman, Donovan and Garth and Sterling)

  Edna St. Vincent Milay
Milay and the poet were acquaintances and, as noted in the picture, she came to visit him at Tor House.


Edna St. Vincent Milay

 




Jake Zeitlin

A fascinating figure in the history of Southern California, Jacob (Jake) Zeitlin came to the region from Texas as an itinerant bookseller. He settled down and eventually became a renowned bookseller in the area. He also dabbled in fine printing and was a promoter of western arts and literature. He formed friendships with Jeffers and other writers and artists in the region including Edward Weston.

 

 

 

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Jake Zeitlin
Zeitlin wrote a small book of poems
published by Ward Ritchie, Jeffers was
an influence in this endeavor as this poem from the book indicates

 


Albert Bender

Albert Bender was a patron of Jeffers work from the beginning and he and Jeffers became very close friends. Unfortunately, very little about this friendship is documented in the manuscripts or photos of the collection at Occidental.

 
 



Lawrence Clark Powell

Nationally recognized librarian and writer Lawrence Clark Powell was a classmate of Ward Ritchie at Occidental College. As a graduate student in Dijon (where, incidentally, he was good friends with Henry Miller and M. F. K. Fisher) Powell took up the study of Jeffers' work which resulted in the first definitive study of Jeffers' life and poetry. Dr. Powell's book on Jeffers, Robinson Jeffers: The Man and his Work, was his Ph.D. thesis at Dijon University in France.  It is a thought-provoking read, and one which displays Dr. Powell's early talent as a writer and literary critic. Read the Occidental press release issued on his passing.

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Jeffers and
Albert Bender

 

 



Ward Ritchie

A well known and successful Los Angeles fine printer and Occidental College graduate, Ritchie formed a productive friendship with Jeffers.  He printed beautiful limited edition copies of many of the poet's works. The Ward Ritchie Press set the standard for finely printed volumes coming out of the region at that time. Ward Ritchie's first individual printing endeavor was Jeffers' poem "Stars." He printed the poem not long after his graduation from Occidental.. Undoubtedly the choice arose out of the interest he shared with Powell for the poets works. His early printing was done in the basement of Clyde Browne's Abby in the Garvanza neighborhood of Los Angeles once Ritchie had obtained permission to use Browne's press.


Ward Ritchie

 



Remsen Bird

Arguably Occidental's most charismatic former president, Remsen Bird cultivated friendships with many influential artists and writers. His bond with Robin and Una was possibly the strongest of these relationships. Bird corresponded regularly with the two. Also he would often visit Tor House, and he eventually moved to Carmel. The portrait at right (one of many) and this caricature of Una, testify to the intimacy which Bird shared with the couple.  His "cartoons" also demonstrate Bird's creativity and lightheartedness.


A Portrait of Jeffers by Remsen Bird

 



Edward Weston

From very early in his career, Robinson Jeffers was a favorite subject  of this unique, well-known, photographer, who lived near Jeffers in the Carmel area.

 

 


Edward Weston
A portrait of Jeffers by Weston inscribed to Remsen Bird

 



Ansel Adams

Jeffers was a rare human subject for this renowned nature photographer. Adams was also a fellow Carmel resident. Jeffers, individualist and outdoorsman, seems to have had a physical appearance that reflected these values and even embodied the characteristics of the rugged coastal region. After all, he was photographed by many of the great artists of western photography. Besides Weston and Adams, Morley Baer and Life magazine photojournalist Leigh Weiner took pictures of the poet at his home.


Portrait of Jeffers by Ansel Adams

 




William Everson

William Everson was a pioneering and unusual Beat poet who also taught fine printing from his press at UC Santa Cruz.. He led a fascinating life, joining a Dominican order at one point to resign after many years of aestheticism and study to a less restrictive life near the sea at Santa Cruz. From his late adolescence he had an obsession with the poetry of Jeffers tantamount to religious fervor. He wrote numerous critical volumes on the poet in addition to his own excellent creative works, which was heavily influenced by Jeffers. A great introduction to his work is his selected poetry Dark God of Eros (Heyday books, 2003). Later in his life he visited and corresponded frequently with Una and Robinson Jeffers.
 


William Everson

 



Mark Jarman
Mark Jarman is a contemporary poet whose work was influenced by Jeffers. His narrative style reflects this as well as does much of his subject matter. For example, in his book, Iris (Storyline Press, 1992), Jeffers poetry and the Carmel coast are focal points for the ambition and imagination of the protagonist. Jarman has won numerous national poetry awards and fellowships and has published many interesting works in the New Formalism style that he champions.

 


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Mark Jarman

 

John Young-Hunter
John Young Hunter was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1874.  His father was a well-known artist and close friend of John Singer Sargent, under whom Young Hunter studied at the Royal Academy in London.  Young Hunter met with early success in England.   In 1917 armed with a letter of introduction to Bert Phillips he became a member of the inner circle of Taos Founders and Mabel Dodge.  Eventually Young Hunter built his own studio in Taos and worked there until his death in 1955.   [extract from The Legendary Artists of Taos by Mary Carroll Nelson.]



 


Jeffers and
John Young-Hunter
in Taos

All photos were scanned from originals from the Occidental College Library Jeffers Collection and should only be used with permission.



Page last edited by on 03/06/2013.
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