Tor House Library

Cataloging The Tor House Foundation Library

by Kathleen Sonntag

The attached list is the books from the Jeffers family library currently displayed in Tor House. The books include Una’s many books on Ireland, textbooks, and many other items. There are over one thousand books on the shelves at Tor House. However, the family library only represents a small part of the family’s reading; living frugally, the family depended on libraries for much of their reading.

In 1996 Jean O’Brien catalogued the books remaining in the family cottage. In 1998, in her book The Last Word, Maureen Girard recorded the notes in the books (mostly by Una; Robin made very few). In 2015-2016 Lynn Stralem, Maureen Girard and Kathleen Sonntag completed a physical inventory of the books in the west wing. Most of the shelves in the east wing library, the Tor house reference library, were also inventoried.

The Tor House books are divided into three main collections: the Jeffers family library, housed mostly on the shelves in the cottage, the foundation reference library kept in the bookshelves downstairs in the east wing, and auxiliary shelves upstairs in the east wing next to the foundation office.

The family library catalogue will be published electronically as a companion document to the revised edition of The Last Word. The Last Word only documents those books with inscriptions and annotations. The second edition of The Last Word includes descriptions of additional books from the family library containing inscriptions and annotations not found in 1998. The catalogue attached includes the entire family library holdings, with or without annotations.

The reference library contains copies of books written by and about Robinson Jeffers. The reference library catalogue project in progress will merge three separate databases into one searchable file. The reference books were donated to the foundation by admirers of Robinson Jeffers – Charles Ditsler, Richard Hayman, Donald Clark, Dame Judith Anderson, James Grimes, William Keys and others. The auxiliary library is a collection of anthologies and other books that mention Robinson Jeffers and his work.

The reference collection has books that Robinson Jeffers inscribed to friends and special editions of his work, stored in the locked archives in the east wing. There are copies of the RJA newsletters, Carmelite, Carmel Pine Cone and other newspapers, literary magazines, books about Carmel’s history, and books that include his poetry. Completing the reference collection are works by scholars who have studied Robinson Jeffers work – William Everson, Robert Brophy, Robert Zaller, Robert Kafka, Lawrence Clark Powell, Melba Berry Bennett, James Karman, Tim Hunt and a long list of others.

The family catalogue is available here. It provides a wealth of intriguing information about the family’s reading.