Miriam Colwell Papers, 1945-1998

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Volume: 1 linear foot

Organization/Arrangement: Organized as a single series.

Biographical Note: Born in Prospect Harbor in 1917, Miriam Colwell moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Maine at Orono.  While there, she wrote freelance articles, did consumer research and wrote poetry.

A few years later, with her companion Chenoweth Hall, she returned to Maine to take over as Prospect Harbor's postmaster from her grandfather upon his retirement. It was in the early 1940s that she began to write short stories and then novels, setting her books in Maine and depicting the changing demographics of the population along the coast. Her first book, Wind Off the Water, was published in 1945, followed by Day of the Trumpet in 1947, and then Young in 1955.

In 1955, Robert Linder compared her to J. D. Salinger. He found Young "an amazingly perceptive study of the modern girl in her late adolescence. What J.D. Salinger did for the [American] male, Miriam Colwell has done for the [American] female."

After the publication of Young, Colwell stopped writing. It wasn't until 2006 that her fourth book, a manuscript written in 1955 and then abandoned, was published as Contentment Cove and Colwell enjoyed a resurgence of public interest in her work.

With Chenoweth Hall, who was a writer, painter, sculptor and teacher, Colwell enjoyed a stimulating life enriched by artist friends such as Berenice Abbott, Ruth Moore, Eleanor Mayo, Christine Weston, Marsden Hartley, John Marin and others.

Two video clips of Miriam Colwell in June of 2012:

In Conversation

In Conversation Reading from 
Reading from "Young"

Description:  This collection contains publisher's manuscripts of Colwell's first three books, as well as clippings from her scrapbook and articles about her.

Access Restrictions: None

Please cite as: Miriam Colwell Collection, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine.

Container List:

001. "Precursors of the 'Real' Maine: Miriam Colwell and Clifford S. Reynolds" by Sanford Phippen, 1986
002. Manuscript notes attributed to Colwell by Cally Gurley, undated
003. Photocopies of MC scrapbook articles, reviews, 1940s, 1950s 
004. Jack Barnes article, 1998
005-008. Publisher's MS -- Wind Off the Water, 1945
009-012. Publisher's MS -- Day of the Trumpet, 1946
013-016. Publisher's MS -- Young, 1955

Watch a 2009 MPBN "A Good Read" interview with Miriam Colwell by Sandy Phippen. 

Listen to an audio podcast of Miriam Colwell's 2008 Portland Public Library's Brown Bag Lecture Series presentation.

Read an oral history interview with Miriam Colwell at the Archives of American Art, 2005.

See also the Chenoweth Hall Slides, Maine Women Writers Collection, University of New England, Portland, Maine.