Elizabeth Coatsworth

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Elizabeth Coatsworth
BornElizabeth Jane Coatsworth
May 31, 1893
Buffalo, New York, US
DiedAugust 31, 1986
Nobleboro, Maine, US
Resting placeNobleboro, Maine
EducationMaster of Arts
Alma materColumbia University
GenreChildren's and adult novels, picture books, poetry
Notable works
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven
  • Away Goes Sally
Notable awardsNewbery Medal

Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth (May 31, 1893 – August 31, 1986) was an American writer of fiction and poetry for children and adults. She won the 1931 Newbery Medal from the American Library Association award recognizing The Cat Who Went to Heaven as the previous year's "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children."[1] In 1968 she was a highly commended runner-up for the biennial international Hans Christian Andersen Award for children's writers.[2]

Elizabeth Coatsworth was born May 31, 1893, to Ida Reid and William T. Coatsworth, a prosperous grain merchant in Buffalo, New York. She attended Buffalo Seminary, a private girls' school, and spent summers with her family on the Canadian shore of Lake Erie. She began traveling as a child, visiting the Alps and Egypt at age five.[3]: 97  Coatsworth graduated from Vassar College in 1915 as Salutatorian.[4] In 1916 she received a Master of Arts from Columbia University.[5] She then traveled to eastern Asia, riding horseback through the Philippines, exploring Indonesia and China, and sleeping in a Buddhist monastery. These travels would later influence her writing.[3]: 97 

In 1929, she married writer Henry Beston, with whom she had two daughters, Margaret and Catherine.[3]: 97  They lived at Hingham, Massachusetts, and Chimney Farm in Nobleboro, Maine.[6] Her daughter, Kate Barnes (1932–2013), would go on to become accomplished in writing in her own right, being named the first Poet Laureate of Maine.[7]

Elizabeth Coatsworth died at her home in Nobleboro, August 31, 1986.[8] Her papers are held in the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota[5] and Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine,[9] with a small archive from late in her career in the de Grummond Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi.[8] There is also a collection of her papers at the Maine Women Writers Collection held at the University of New England, Portland, Maine.[10]


Coatsworth began her career publishing her poetry in magazines. Her first book was a poetry collection for adults, Fox Footprints, in 1912. A conversation with her friend, Louise Seaman, who had just founded the first children's book publishing department in the United States at Macmillan, led Coatsworth to write her first children's book, The Cat and the Captain.[3]: 97  In 1930 The Cat Who Went to Heaven appeared. The story of an artist who is painting a picture of Buddha for a group of monks, it won the Newbery Medal for "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children".[1]

Nineteenth-Century Children's Writers says "Coatsworth reached her apogee in her nature writing, notably The Incredible Tales".[9] These four books were published for adults in the 1950s. They tell the story of the Perdrys, a family living in the forests of northern Maine who may not be entirely human.

Coatsworth had a long career, publishing over 90 books from 1910 to her autobiography and final book in 1976.[3]: 96 

Selected works[edit]

For children[edit]

  • The Cat and the Captain, illustrated by Gertrude Kaye, Macmillan, 1927
  • The Cat Who Went to Heaven, ill. Lynd Ward Macmillan, 1930
  • The Golden Horseshoe, ill. Robert Lawson, Macmillan, 1935
  • Sword of the Wilderness, ill. Harve Stein, Macmillan, 1936
  • Alice-All-by-Herself, ill. Marguerite de Angeli, Macmillan, 1937
  • Dancing Tom, ill. Grace Paull, Macmillan, 1938
  • You Shall have a Carriage, ill. Henry Clarence Pitz, Macmillan, 1941
  • Runaway Home, ill. Gustaf Tenggren, Row, Peterson and Company, 1942
  • Indian Mound Farm, ill. Fermin Rocker, Macmillan, 1943
  • Up Hill and Down: Stories, ill. James Davis, Knopf, 1947
  • Night and the Cat, With Illustrations by Foujita, Macmillan, 1950
  • Dollars for Luck, ill. George and Doris Hauman, Macmillan, 1951; reissued as The Sailing Hatrack, London:Blackie, 1972
  • Cat Stories, ill. Feodor Stepanovich Rojankovsky, Simon & Schuster, 1953
  • Dog Stories, ill. Rojankovsky, Simon & Schuster, 1953
  • Old Whirlwind: The Story of Davy Crockett, ill. Manning Lee, Macmillan, 1953
  • Horse Stories, by Kate Barnes and Coatsworth, ill. Rojankovsky, Simon & Schuster, 1954
  • The Peddler's Cart, by Eliabeth Coatsworth, ill. Zhenya Gay, Macmillan, 1956
  • Pika and the Roses, ill. Kurt Wiese, Pantheon, 1959
  • Lonely Maria, ill. Evaline Ness, Pantheon, 1960
  • The Noble Doll, ill. Leo Politi, Viking, 1961
  • Chimney Farm Bedtime Stories, by Henry Beston and Coatsworth, ill. Maurice Day, Holt, Reinhart, 1966
  • The Lucky Ones:Five Journeys Toward a Home, ill. Janet Doyle, Macmillan, 1968
  • Under the Green Willow, ill Janina Domanska, Macmillan, 1971
  • The Wanderers, ill. Trina Schart Hyman, Scholastic, 1972
  • Pure Magic, ill. Ingrid Fetz, Macmillan 1973; reissued as The Werefox, Collier, 1975
  • Marra's World, ill. Krystayna Turska, Greenwillow, 1975
Example The book cover illustration shows a snow-covered world with a horse and sleigh about to pick up a girl in a long dress
A later edition of the first Sally book
Sally series

The five historical novels featuring "Sally" were all illustrated by Helen Sewell and published by Macmillan US.

  • Away Goes Sally, 1934
  • Five Bushel Farm, 1938
  • The Fair American ,1940
  • The White Horse , 1942
  • The Wonderful Day, 1946

For adults[edit]

  • Here I Stay, Coward McCann, 1938
  • The Trunk, Macmillan, 1941
The Incredible Tales
  • The Enchanted, Pantheon, 1951
  • Silky: An Incredible Tale, Pantheon, 1953
  • Mountain Bride: An Incredible Tale, Pantheon 1954
  • The White Room, Pantheon, 1958
  • Fox Footprints, Knopf, 1923, poetry
  • Country Poems, Macmillan, 1942
  • The Creaking Stair, Coward McCann, 1949
  • The Sun's Diary: A Book of Days for Any Year, Macmillan, 1929
  • Country Neighborhood, Macmillan, 1945
  • Maine Ways, Macmillan, 1947
  • Especially Maine: The Natural World of Henry Beston from Cape Cod to the St. Lawrence; (editor), Stephen Greene, 1970
  • Personal Geography: Almost an Autobiography, Stephen Greene, 1976

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Newbery Medal and Honor Books, 1922–Present". Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). American Library Association (ALA).
      "The John Newbery Medal". ALSC. ALA. Retrieved 2013-06-26.
  2. ^ "Candidates for the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 1956–2002". The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Pages 110–18. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online (literature.at). Retrieved 2013-07-20.
  3. ^ a b c d e Cech, John (editor), Dictionary of Literary Biographies: American Writers for Children, 1900–1960, Gale Research, 1983, volume 22
  4. ^ "About Elizabeth Coatsworth". Friends of Henry Beston.
  5. ^ a b "Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth Papers". Children's Literature Research Collections. University of Minnesota. With biographical sketch.
  6. ^ Newbery Medal Books: 1922–1955, eds. Bertha Mahony Miller, Elinor Whitney Field, Horn Book, 1955, LOC 55-13968, p. 97
  7. ^ "Obituary. Kate Barnes". Bangor Daily News. June 13, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Elizabeth Coatsworth Papers". de Grummond Children's Literature Collection. University of Southern Mississippi. May 2001. Retrieved 2013-06-26. With biographical sketch.
  9. ^ a b Chevalier, Tracy (editor), 'Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, St. James Press, 1989, pp. 218
  10. ^ "Elizabeth Jane Coatsworth Papers, 1892-1986 | Maine Women Writers Collection | University of New England in Maine, Tangier and Online". www.une.edu. Retrieved February 14, 2019.

External links[edit]