John Corbin, Papers
Title: John Corbin, Papers
Creator: Corbin, John, 1870-1959
Quantity: 7 boxes (2.7 linear feet)
Collection Number: MS 011
Copyright: To inquire about usage, please contact Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. For more
information see the Use Guidelines
Preferred Citation: John Corbin, Papers (MS 011). Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.. Archives & Special
Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.
Born in Chicago on 2 May 1870, John Corbin was the fifth child of Calvin Rich Corbin and Caroline Elizabeth Fairfield Corbin.
At the age of 18, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and entered Harvard College in the fall of 1888. He graduated with
a B.A. degree in English in 1892 and a M.A. in 1893. His graduate study focused on Shakespeare and dramatic literature. From
1893 to 1894, he worked as editor of Outing magazine. For one year, Corbin attended Baloil College at Oxford University where he turned his master's thesis into a publishable
monograph. In the spring of 1895, Scribner's in New York published The Elizabethan Hamlet.
Corbin returned to the United States and served as an instructor at Harvard for the 1896-1897 school year. He then resigned
from this position and went to work as an assistant editor of Harper's Magazine. He wrote his first dramatic criticism for Harper's Magazine and Harper's Weekly. During his time at Harper's, Corbin met Amy Foster. They married on 1 November 1899 and remained together for the next sixty years. In 1900 Corbin
went to work for the Encyclopedia Britannica and began work on another book. Corbin focused on his experiences at Oxford, which appear in An American at Oxford, published
by Houghton Mifflin in 1902. In addition to his work, Corbin also wrote a number of free-lance articles for The New York Times, Scribner's Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, and The Forum.
From 1902 to 1904 Corbin worked as a drama critic for The New York Times. He left the position at the New York Times in December 1904 and went to work for The New York Sun. He remained at the Sun until the summer of 1907. Corbin worked on numerous free-lance articles for The Saturday Evening Post, which Houghton Mifflin republished in book form in 1908 with the title, Which College for the Boy?. On 20 July 1908 Corbin became Literary Director of the New Theatre, a repertory theater founded by W. K. Vanderbilt, J.
P. Morgan, John J. Astor, and other members of New York's high society. He resigned as director in 1910, and the New Theatre
closed one year later.
Corbin went back to free-lance writing, as well as to writing and producing plays, after leaving the New Theatre. He acted
as secretary for the Drama Society in New York from 1913 to 1916. In 1917 Corbin returned to the New York Times as a drama critic and remained there until 1925. After leaving the Times he devoted the next four years to studying American
History. His research led to the publication of a biography of George Washington, titled The Unknown Washington, in 1930.
Corbin continued as a free-lance writer for the remainder of his life. During his career he authored a total of twelve books
and over one hundred articles and reviews.
John and Amy Corbin moved into a convalescent home in Briarcliff Manor, New York, in the fall of 1957. Amy Corbin passed
away in the spring of 1959. John Corbin died a few months later on 30 August 1959.
Scope and Content:
The papers of John Corbin relate to his career as an author and drama critic. They consist of correspondence to and from
Corbin, manuscripts and published articles by Corbin, research notes and subject files related to his writings, news clippings
of book reviews, legal contracts and agreements, and several photographs. The correspondence in the collection includes personal
letters between Corbin and family members as well as business correspondence with magazine editors and publishing companies.
Also included in the correspondence are letters from Herbert Hoover, Abby (Mrs. John) Rockefeller, and federal court judge
The bulk of the collection consists of manuscript drafts of books and articles, most of which were never published. The majority
of the writings are fictional works, with a few manuscripts relating to the life of William Shakespeare. The collection also
includes several folders of research notes and other background materials compiled by Corbin. Most of the files relate to
his research on the life of William Shakespeare, but one folder of information on the inscription of Mount Rushmore contains
correspondence with Calvin Coolidge. The photographs in the collection include a number of John Corbin, several of his wife
Amy, and one of Corbin and various dignitaries and members of high society at a meeting in Bar Harbor, Maine. The Corbin papers
document the career of John Corbin and provide insights into early 20th Century dramatic criticism.
Amery, L. S. (Leopold Stennett), 1873-1955 -- Correspondence
Campbell, Oscar James, 1879-1970 -- Correspondence
Coolidge, Calvin, 1872-1933 -- Correspondence
Corbin, John, 1870-1959 -- Archives
Curtis, Lionel, 1872-1955 -- Correspondence
Hand, Learned, 1872-1961 -- Correspondence
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964 -- Correspondence
Hughes, Rupert, 1872-1956 -- Correspondence
Perry, Bliss, 1860-1954 -- Correspondence
Porter, Charlotte Endymion, 1859-1942 -- Correspondence
Rockefeller, Abby Aldrich, 1874-1948 -- Correspondence
Rowse, A. L. (Alfred Leslie), 1903-1997 -- Correspondence
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and interpretation
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Archives
Theater critics -- United States -- Archives
Series 1: Correspondence, Box 1, Folders 1-7
The correspondence consists of letters to and from John Corbin as well as a few to and from Amy Corbin. Much of the correspondence
is between Corbin and various publishers and editors regarding manuscripts and article drafts submitted for publication.
Other letters between friends and colleagues deal with research ideas and preliminary article reviews. There are some personal
letters between Corbin and his friends as well as a few letters from Corbin's father. Of special interest is correspondence
with Herbert Hoover, Abby (Mrs. John) Rockefeller, and Learned Hand, a federal Court of Appeals judge who delivered more that
2,000 legal opinions and is regarded as one of the finest jurists in American history.
Series 2: Manuscripts, Box 1, Folder 8-Box 5, Folder 5
This series contains manuscript drafts for books, articles, and plays created by Corbin. The bulk of this series consists
of manuscript drafts of "High Canaan"
and a later, alternatively titled "Tis Then I Most Go Right."
Although fictional, this novel used autobiographical elements of Corbin's life. Corbin never found a publisher to take on
the project. Most of the remaining manuscripts in the collection relate to Corbin's interest in the life of William Shakespeare.
Series 3: Published articles, Box 5, Folders 6-7 and Oversize Box 20
This series consists of published articles authored by Corbin. They range in date from 1911 to 1934.
Series 4: Contracts and Agreements, Box 5, Folder 8
The legal contracts and agreements between Corbin and various publishing and production companies relate to some of the early
works created by Corbin. The documents range in date from 1901 to 1914.
Series 5: Subject Files, Box 5, Folders 9-16
The files in this series mainly contain background information for some of Corbin's published works. They contain research
notes, news clippings, correspondence, etc. Of particular interest is the subject file, "Mount Rushmore Inscription: Calvin
Coolidge and Gutzon Borglum."
The file contains correspondence with Calvin Coolidge regarding the inscription on Mount Rushmore as well as various news
clippings and other notes
Series 6: Press Reviews, Box 5, Folders 17-19
This series contains newspaper clippings of book reviews. The files consist of reviews of three of John Corbin's books.
The books reviewed are "The Cave Man,""Two Frontiers of Freedom,"
and "The Unknown Washington."
Series 7: Miscellaneous Clippings and Documents, Box 6, Folders 1-3 and Oversize Box 20
The miscellaneous items in this series include newspaper clippings, a few lines of a poem of unknown origin, an announcement
from the Drama and Music Committee of the Twentieth Century Club for 1905-1906, and an issue of the French language newspaper
L'Horizon: Journal des Poilus. Also included in this series is a scrapbook created by John Corbin. It contains news clippings, a few pieces of correspondence,
and some additional miscellany.
Series 8: Photographs, Box 6, Folders 4-5
The photographs in this series are mainly of John Corbin, with a few of his wife Amy. Also included is a photo of John Corbin
at a meeting of summer residents of Bar Harbor, Maine. Accompanying the the photo is a newspaper clipping describing the
meeting, which was held to encourage support of "the eight-point Roosevelt-Churchill program and also begin a study of worldwide
The photo includes such notables as former U.S. Consul General to Stockholm Hallett Johnson and former U.S. Ambassador to
Turkey Henry Morgenthau. The photos range in date from the 1880s to the 1950s.
Series 1: Correspondence
Box 1. Folder 1. Correspondence, 1894-1916
Box 1. Folder 2. Correspondence, 1920-1930
Box 1. Folder 3. Correspondence, 1931-1939
Box 1. Folder 4. Correspondence, 1940-1948
Box 1. Folder 5. Correspondence, , 1949-1950
Box 1. Folder 6. Correspondence, 1951-1953
Box 1. Folder 7. Correspondence, 1954-1956, undated
Series 2: Manuscripts
Box 1. Folder 8. "High Canaan"part I
Box 1. Folder 9. "High Canaan"part II
Box 2. Folder 1. "High Canaan"part III, sections 1-15
Box 2. Folder 2. "High Canaan"part III, sections 16-22
Box 2. Folder 3. "High Canaan"part IV
Box 2. Folder 4. "High Canaan"part V
Box 2. Folder 5. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"
Box 2. Folder 6. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part II
Box 2. Folder 7. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part III, sections 1-15
Box 3. Folder 1. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part III, sections 16-22
Box 3. Folder 2. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part IV
Box 3. Folder 3. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part V
Box 3. Folder 4. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part I, c. 2
Box 3. Folder 5. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part II, c. 2
Box 3. Folder 6. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part III, sections 1-15, c. 2
Box 3. Folder 7. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part I, sections 16-22, c. 2
Box 4. Folder 1. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part IV, c. 2
Box 4. Folder 2. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part V, c. 2
Box 4. Folder 3. Rejected draft, "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part I, section 14
Box 4. Folder 4. Rejected draft, "'Tis Then I Most Go Right"part II, section 15
Box 4. Folder 5. Rejected draft, "The Great Vision,"
Box 4. Folder 6. Rejected draft, "Fighting Words of the Peace,"
Box 4. Folder 7. Rejected draft, "Fighting Words of the Peace," section 11 and Epilogue
Box 4. Folder 8. Rejected draft"Shakespeare and His Stage,"
Box 4. Folder 9. Rejected draft"Shakespeare and His Stage"pt. 2
Box 5. Folder 1. Rejected draft"Shakespeare and His Stage"pt. 3
Box 5. Folder 2. "The Love Letters of William Shakespeare"pt. 1
Box 5. Folder 3. "The Love Letters of William Shakespeare"pt. 2
Box 5. Folder 4. Incomplete draft"The Love Letters of William Shakespeare"pt. 1, c. 2
Box 5. Folder 5. Incomplete draft"The Love Letters of William Shakespeare"pt. 2, c. 2
Series 3: Published articles,
Box 5. Folder 6. Published articles, 1919
Box 5. Folder 7. Published articles, 1911-1934 (see also oversize box 20)
Series 4: Contracts and Agreements,
Box 5. Folder 8. Contracts and Agreements, 1901-1914
Series 5: Subject Files
Box 5. Folder 9. Mount Rushmore Inscription: Calvin Coolidge and Gutzon Borglum
Box 5. Folder 10. Nature
Box 5. Folder 11. Return of the Middle Class
Box 5. Folder 12. Shakespeare, New Theatre
Box 5. Folder 13. Shakespeare and the Plastic Stage
Box 5. Folder 14. Shakespeare, stage notes (see also oversize box 20)
Box 5. Folder 15. Shakespeare, theatre programs
Box 5. Folder 16. Washington, George
Series 6: Press Reviews
Box 5. Folder 17. "The Cave Man"
Box 5. Folder 18. "Two Frontiers of Freedom"
Box 5. Folder 19. "The Unknown Washington"
Series 7: Miscellaneous Clippings and Documents
Box 6. Folder 1. Scrapbook
Box 6. Folder 2. Clippings, notes, etc
Box 6. Folder 3. Misc.clippings, documentsL'HORIZON, Journal des Poilus (see also oversize box 20)
Series 8: Photographs
Box 6. Folder 4. Photographs
Box 6. Folder 5. Photographs, 1880s-1950s
Related Material and Resources:
Clark, David M. John Corbin: Dramatic Critic. Lincoln, NE; University of Nebraska - Lincoln, 1976
Corbin, John. School Boy Life in England. An American View. New York; Harper and Brothers, 1898
____________.Husband: a Comedy in Three Acts. 1900
____________.An American at Oxford. Boston; Houghton Mifflin, 1902
____________. College for the Boy? Leading Types in American Education.. Boston; Houghton,
Mifflin and company, 1908
____________. The Return of the Middle Class. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1922
____________. Unknown Washington; Biographic Origins of the Republic. New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1930