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George Sterling Papers: Finding Aid
mssGS 1-611  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Related material in the Huntington Library
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Overview of the Collection

    Title: George Sterling Papers
    Dates (inclusive): 1895-1927
    Collection Number: mssGS 1-611
    Creator: Sterling, George, 1869-1926.
    Extent: 666 pieces in 12 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2129
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and watercolors pertaining to the life and work of California lyric poet George Sterling (1869-1926). Much of the correspondence in the collection is between Sterling and other American writers and poets, who discuss their own work and the work of other individuals. Almost all of the correspondence in the collection by Sterling is addressed to his friend, and fellow author, Jack London (1876-1916).
    Language: English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. George Sterling Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Purchased from Thor Liliencrantz, nephew of George Sterling, in 1954.

    Related material in the Huntington Library

    Additional manuscripts and letters by George Sterling may be found in the Samuel Loveman Papers   (Call number: mssHM 46222-46267)

    Biographical Note

    George Sterling (1869-1926) was an American poet, prose stylist and playwright. Sterling was born in Sag Harbor, New York, and moved to California in 1892, where he met and became a pupil to Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?). Sterling's poetry was first published through the aid of Bierce, who included some of Sterling's verse in his San Francisco Examiner column. In 1903, Sterling's first book of poetry was published, The Testimony of the Suns, and was followed by nine more volumes of verse in the years to come, including A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems (1908). In 1908 Sterling and his wife, Caroline Rand, moved from Oakland to Carmel. Then, after several years in New York, Sterling lived at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. Sterling was good friends with author Jack London. Sterling died by his own hand in 1926.
    In addition to writing poetry Sterling also wrote several plays (many of which he composed for the Bohemian Club of San Francisco to perform), short stories, and a critical text on Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962). He published ten volumes of verse, five separately published poems, four dramatic poems, and much uncollected magazine prose and verse. Carey McWilliams writes of Sterling: "The remarkable range and the intimate quality of his acquaintance, coupled with his long residence in the West, gave a cultural significance to his career quite apart from his writing."

    Scope and Content

    This collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, photographs and watercolors pertaining to the life and work of George Sterling. Contents include 544 pieces of correspondence; 116 manuscripts; 3 photographs; 2 watercolors, and an agreement with Douglas Fairbanks Pictures Organization (received as addenda).
    Much of the correspondence in the collection is between Sterling and other American writers and poets, who discuss their own work and the work of other individuals. Almost all of the correspondence in the collection by Sterling is addressed to his friend, and fellow author, Jack London (1876-1916). The collection contains manuscripts written by Sterling as well as manuscripts by Ambrose Bierce and others. Most of the collection's manuscripts are poems, although the section also contains epigrams, diaries, vocabulary aids and prose. The photographs within the collection are of Sterling and his friends and associates, and all of the collection's watercolors were painted by Sterling.
    Subjects addressed within the collection include Ambrose Bierce, American poetry (1915-1925), Prohibition (with frequent mention in H. L. Mencken's letters), and European description and travel (chiefly in the early letters of Herman George Scheffauer).
    Correspondents and authors include: William Rose Benét, Ambrose Bierce, Witter Bynner, Margaret Smith Cobb, Sidney Bert Cooksley, Ina Donna Coolbrith, Countee Cullen, Benjamin De Casseres, May S. Greenwood, James Hopper, Rolfe Humphries, Robinson Jeffers, Leslie Nelson Jennings, Sinclair Lewis, Vachel Lindsey, Charmian London, Jack London, Samuel Loveman, William Somerset Maugham, Henry Louis Mencken, Leo Bergin Mihan, John Gneisenau Neihardt, Joseph O'Carroll, John Myers O'Hara, Louis Alexander Robertson, Theodore Roosevelt, Carl Sandburg, Herman George Scheffauer, George Ansel Sterling, Charles Hanson Towne, Grace Wallace, Herbert George Wells, Edward Lucas White, Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Gaylord Wilshire, and Audrey Wurdemann.
    Persons represented by five or more pieces:
    • Bynner, Witter: 5 pieces, 1913-24
    • Cobb, Margaret Smith: 34 pieces, 1923-26
    • Coolbrith, Ina Donna: 26 pieces, 1907-26
    • De Casseres, Benjamin: 8 pieces, 1926
    • Greenwood, May Snowdrop: 65 poems 1917-26
    • Hopper, James: 5 pieces, 1926-28
    • Humphries, Rolfe: 6 pieces, 1924-25
    • Jeffers, Robinson: 12 pieces, 1924-26
    • Jennings, Leslie Nelson: 45 pieces, 1917-22
    • London, Jack: 18 pieces, 1902-16
    • Loveman, Samuel: 19 pieces, 1915-26
    • Mencken, Henry Louis: 63 pieces, 1916-26
    • Neihardt, John Gneisenau: 50 pieces, 1912-25
    • Sterling, George: Poems: 43 to Miscellaneous persons: 5 To London: 72 (1910-16)
    • Mihan, Leo Bergin: 5 pieces, 1924-26
    • O'Carroll, Joseph: 9 pieces, 1923-26
    • O'Hara, John Myers: 5 pieces, 1911-16
    • Robertson, Louis Alexander: 7 pieces, 1904-08
    • Scheffaeur, Herman George: 57 pieces, 1904-21
    • White, Edward Lucas: 5 pieces, 1925
    • Wilcox, Ella (Wheeler): 5 pieces, 1914-15
    Some notable items include:
    • Benet, William Rose. 1921, Nov. 17. About Sterling's verse.
    • Coolbrith, Ina. 1907, Feb. To Blanche Partington. He is the best boy in the world as well as one of its few great poets...
    • Jeffers, Robinson. 12 letters, mostly about poetry. 1924-26
    • Lindsey, Vachel. 1913, June 1. Long letter on his own career and poetry.
    • London, Jack. 1916, Mar. 7. Critique of severl short stories by Sterling.
    • London, Jack. 1908, Feb. 10. And I speculate and speculate, trying to make you out, trying to lay hands on the inner side of you...
    • Mencken, Henry L. 63 letters, containing numerous references to Prohibition
    • O'Hara, John Myers. 1911, May 7. Letter of praise and criticism.
    • Osbourne, Lloyd. 1895, Oct. 24. Advising Sterling against a proposed adventure to Samoa.
    • Scheffauer, Herman George. 1904, June 19. Description of visit to St. Louis fair.
    • Scheffauer, Herman George. 1904, Sep. 8. Description of trip through Scotland and England
    • Scheffauer, Herman George. 1904, Dec. 20. Letter of 52 pages, octavo, describing trip through Germany and France. His letters are of above average interest.
    • Sterling, George. Letters to Jack London. 1910-1916.
    • Sterling, George. Notebook containing vocabulary aid. c.1915.
    • Sterling, George. 1919, Apr. 9. To W. S. B. Braithwaite. Draft of a letter of protest over the misprinting of his poems.


    The collection has been arranged with the correspondence and manuscripts first, in alphabetical order by author, followed by ephemera, photographs, and watercolors.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the Huntington Library's Online Catalog.  


    Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
    Sterling, George, 1869-1926.
    American poetry -- 20th century.
    Poets, American -- 20th century.
    Prohibition -- United States.
    Europe -- Description and travel.


    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 20th century.
    Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
    Photographs -- United States -- 20th century.
    Watercolors -- United States -- 20th century.

    Alternate Authors

    Benét, William Rose, 1886-1950.
    Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
    Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968.
    Cobb, Margaret Smith.
    Cooksley, Sidney Bert, 1903-
    Coolbrith, Ina D. (Ina Donna), 1841-1928.
    Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946.
    De Casseres, Benjamin, 1873-1945.
    Greenwood, May S.
    Hopper, James, 1876-1956.
    Humphries, Rolfe.
    Jeffers, Robinson, 1887-1962.
    Jennings, Leslie N. (Leslie Nelson), 1892-
    Lewis, Sinclair, 1885-1951.
    Lindsey, Vachel.
    London, Charmian.
    London, Jack, 1876-1916.
    Loveman, Samuel, 1887-1976.
    Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965.
    Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956.
    Mihan, Leo Bergin.
    Neihardt, John G., 1881-1973.
    O'Carroll, Joseph.
    O'Hara, John Myers, 1870-1944.
    Robertson, Louis Alexander, 1856-1910.
    Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919.
    Sandburg, Carl, 1878-1967.
    Scheffauer, Herman George, 1878-1927.
    Sterling, George Ansel.
    Towne, Charles Hanson, 1877-1949.
    Belasco, Grace Wallace.
    Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946.
    White, Edward Lucas, 1866-1934.
    Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, 1850-1919.
    Wilshire, Gaylord, 1861-1927.
    Wurdemann, Audrey, 1911-1960.