Bliss Carman

Fonds number:
Title: Bliss Carman
Dates of Material:
13 cm of textual records
8 photographs: b&w
Biographical sketch

William Bliss Carman (1861–1929) was an editor, essayist and poet. He was born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, the son of William Carman and Sophia Mary Bliss. He died in New Canaan, Connecticut.

He went to Collegiate Grammar School in Fredericton with his cousin Charles G.D. Roberts. He graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1881 after which he attended Edinburgh University in Scotland for two years. In 1883, he returned to Fredericton where he taught at Collegiate Grammar School and read law, receiving an M.A. in 1884. From 1886 to 1888, he did post graduate work in history and philosophy at Harvard. Subsequently, he was employed on the editorial staffs of various literary publications in New York, Chicago and Boston, including The Atlantic, Cosmopolitan, Current Literature, The Chapbook, The Independent, Literary World, and The Outlook.

In 1896, Carman met Dr. Morris Lee King and his wife, Mary Perry King. He collaborated with Mrs. King on The Making of Personality (1908) and on several other books, brochures, masques and interpretive dances. In 1908, he met Madeleine Galbraith at a reception following her appearance in a play at Hart House, University of Toronto. She later lived in New York, studied acting and toured with several companies. The same year, Carman moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, near the King’s estate, where he devoted the later years of his life solely to writing poetry.

In 1925, Carman was made Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 1906 he was awarded an LL.D. by the University of New Brunswick, and in 1928 he received the Lorne Pierce Gold Medal from the Royal Society of Canada. Posthumously, he received a medal from the Poetry Society of America.

Some of Carman’s publications include poetry collections: Low Tide on Grand Pré: A Book of Lyrics (1893), Behind the Arras: A Book of the Unseen (1894), Songs from Vagabondia (1894–1900), A Seamark: A Threnody for Robert Louis Stevenson (1895), From the Book of Myths (1902), The Pipes of Pan (1902–1905), The Green Book of the Bards (1903), Songs of the Sea Children (1904), Collected Poems: In Two Volumes (1904), The World’s Best Poetry (1904), Sappho: One Hundred Lyrics (1905), Echoes from Vagabondia (1912), Daughters of Dawn: A Lyrical Pageant or Series of Historic Scenes for Presentation with Music and Dancing (1913), Earth Deities and Other Masques (1914), Later Poems (1922), Wild Garden (1929), The Music of Earth (1931). Essays and other works of non-fiction: The Kinship of Nature (1903), The Poetry of Life (1904), The Making of Personality (1908), Talks on Poetry and Life (1926), The Oxford Book of American Verse (1927).

Source: Gundy, H.P. “Carman, Bliss.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Ed. James H. Marsh. Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 1988. 365.

Custodial history

The custodial history of the material acquired from F.H. Galbraith and William Onions is unknown. The typewritten manuscript acquired from Ann Ballard was presented to her grandfather, D’Alton Coleman, vice president of CPR Western Lines by the Hon. W.C. Nichol, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia in 1922. How it came to be in his possession is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Bliss Carman’s records pertaining to his activities as a poet and to his personal life. The fonds includes correspondence with Madelaine Galbraith, poems, photographs, and other material.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 1 box.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acquired from Mrs. F.H. Galbraith, a sister of Madelaine Galbraith, with the exception of the draft of Green Fire (file 75a) and photographs (file 82) that were acquired from William Onions at an unknown date, and the typewritten manuscript (file 86), which was acquired from Ann Ballard in 2002. The material in files 80, 81 and 83–85 was acquired from an unknown source.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Finding aids

File list available.

Related material

Archival materials relating to Madelaine Galbraith are part of the Hart House records held at the University of Toronto Archives and Records Managment.

Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario) houses Bliss Carman fonds (reference number: R4260-0-8-E, formerly MG29-D46).

W.D. Jordan Library Special Collections (Queen’s University Library, Kingston, Ontario) holds Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana, which includes Carman’s papers.

New Brunswick Museum Archives and Research Library (Saint John): Bliss Carman collection (reference number: ID1755).

Nielson Library, Mortimer Rare Book Room (Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts) has a manuscript collection associated with the poet.

Other archival collections associated with the poet are located in numerous libraries in Canada and the United States. Please consult the appendices in Letters of Bliss Carman for a complete list.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Carman, Bliss, 1861–1929

Related special collections at Victoria University Library

Some of Carman’s first published editions of his work, rare broadsides, printed Christmas cards, and other items are held in the Canadiana collection.

Related resources

Gundy, Pearson H., ed. Letters of Bliss Carman. Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1981.

Lynch, Gerald., ed. Bliss Carman: A Reappraisal. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1990.

Miner, Muriel. Bliss Carman: A Portrait. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1935. 

Miller, Muriel. Bliss Carman: Quest and Revolt. St. John's: Jesperson Press, 1985. 

“Selected Poetry of Bliss Carman (1861–1929)”Representative Poetry Online. University of Toronto, 2003. 12 Sept. 2014.

Stephens, Donald. Bliss Carman. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1966.

“William Bliss Carman.” New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia. St. Thomas University, 2011. 12 Sept. 2014.