John Corbin, Theater Papers
Title: John Corbin, Theater
Creator: Corbin, John,
boxes (2.7 linear feet)
Collection Number: MS 0011
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guidelines or please contact Archives & Special Collections.
Preferred Citation: John Corbin, Theater Papers (MS 0011). Archives & Special Collections, University of
Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.. Archives & Special Collections, University of
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
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 Learned Hand.
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 --
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 --
Rockefeller, Abby Aldrich, 1874-1948 -- Correspondence
Rowse, A. L. (Alfred Leslie), 1903-1997 -- Correspondence
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Criticism and
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Archives
Theater critics -- United States -- Archives
Series 1: Correspondence
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
Series 2: Manuscripts
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
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
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
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
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
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 collective
security." 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: CorrespondenceBox 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: ManuscriptsBox 1. Folder 8. "High Canaan," part I
Box 1. Folder 9. "High Canaan," part II
Box 2. Folder 1. "High Canaan," part III, sections
Box 2. Folder 2. "High Canaan," part III, sections
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," part
Box 2. Folder 6. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part
Box 2. Folder 7. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part III,
Box 3. Folder 1. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part III,
Box 3. Folder 2. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part
Box 3. Folder 3. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part
Box 3. Folder 4. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part I, c.
Box 3. Folder 5. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part II, c.
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.
Box 4. Folder 2. "'Tis Then I Most Go Right," part V, c.
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," Acts
Box 4. Folder 6. Rejected draft, "Fighting Words of the
Peace," sections 1-10
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,"
Box 5. Folder 1. Rejected draft, "Shakespeare and His Stage,"
Box 5. Folder 2. "The Love Letters of William Shakespeare,"
Box 5. Folder 3. "The Love Letters of William Shakespeare,"
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 articlesBox 5. Folder 6. Published articles, 1919
Box 5. Folder 7. Published articles, 1911-1934 (see also oversize box 20)
Series 4: Contracts and AgreementsBox 5. Folder 8. Contracts and agreements, 1901-1914
Series 5: Subject FilesBox 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 ReviewsBox 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 DocumentsBox 6. Folder 1. Scrapbook
Box 6. Folder 2. Clippings, notes, etc
Box 6. Folder 3. Misc. clippings, documents, L'HORIZON, Journal des
Poilus (see also oversize box 20)
Series 8: PhotographsBox 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, 1976Corbin, 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