The Wales Hawkins Memorial Collection
To Commemorate the Friendship of Wales Monroe Hawkins and Robert Frost
Gift of Corinne Tennyson Davids, 1952-62
The Wales Hawkins Memorial Collection was so named by its donor, Corinne Tennyson Davids of Manchester, VT, to commemorate the friendship of Robert Frost and Wales Monroe Hawkins, Frost's neighbor in South Shaftesbury, who was engaged to the donor before his death in 1928. After Hawkins's death the donor, then Corinne Tennyson, decided to build a permanent memorial to Hawkins in the form of a Robert Frost archive, the building of which would last for decades. With the encouragement of legendary professor of American Literature, Reginald L. "Doc" Cook, as well as from the poet himself, the collection found a home in Middlebury.
Discussions regarding the donation of Corinne Tennyson Davids' expansive Frost collection to the Julian W. Abernethy Collection of American Literature began as early as 1947-48. With Frost's active support, Mrs. Davids brought "Doc" Cook, Abernethy Curator Viola White, and College Treasurer Walter E. Brooker, into the negotiations. The first installment of the large and eclectic collection arrived in September 1952, and included inscribed first and later editions, other books by and about Frost, magazines and newspapers containing poetry, articles, and reviews by and about Frost, and any other material related to Frost's work, including pamphlets and brochures. Over the next decade, Mrs. Davids continued to collect and organize, and donate Frostiana to Middlebury. Added to the collection were unique items including the declaration of Robert Frost as Vermont's First Poet Laureate by Joint House Resolution 54 by the Vermont General Assembly in 1961, a program of the 1961 Presidential Inauguration signed by President John F. Kennedy, an autographed copy of Frost's Inaugural poem, Frost's annual Christmas cards containing original poems, and a copy of Leo Cherne's bust of Frost presented to the American Poetry Society. Among the most outstanding materials in the Wales Hawkins Collection, is a large collection of woodcuts by J.J. Lankes, acclaimed illustrator and friend of Frost, and correspondence between Mrs. Davids and Lankes.
The Reading Room of Special Collections serves, to a certain extent, as a permanent exhibit of representative materials from more than 4000 items of Frostiana in the Wales Hawkins Memorial Collection.