Marianne Moore: Poetry

December 8, 2010

“He Wrote the History Book” and Taught at Bryn Mawr

During her second semester at Bryn Mawr, Moore spent an afternoon skating with her friends and some faculty children.  Among the latter was the son of Evangeline and Charles McLean Andrews who said “I am John Andrews. My father wrote the English History” (Letter to Mary and John Warner Moore, February 11, [1906], Rosenbach). With the substitution of just three words, this statement became the footnote to “’He Wrote the History Book” when it appeared in Observations. Moore finished the poem in early, 1916, just ten years after its inspiration, and first published it in The Egoist (5.3 May 1, 1916. 71).

In the fall of 1906, as a sophomore, Moore took Charles M. Andrews’s course in Medieval History. In letters home she noted that his course was difficult but that she wished she could do more advanced work with him (13 November), that Andrews had written on her paper that she should “try to express yourself more clearly and accurately” (11 December), a refrain echoed by other teachers, and that  Andrews was the “’biggest’” professor she had yet encountered (13 November). By “biggest” she meant the most professionally accomplished.

Andrews did indeed write the “English History book:” A History of England, Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1903, was a textbook for American

History of England

schools and colleges. However, his chief accomplishments lay in American history, particularly of the colonial period. The following short biography has been adapted from Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2004.

Charles McLean Andrews was born in Wethersfield, Conn., on Feb. 22, 1863. He graduated from Trinity College in 1884 pursued graduate studies at Johns Hopkins. There he worked under Herbert B. Adams, a leading figure in the movement to professionalize history.

Andrews took his first teaching position at Bryn Mawr in 1889. He married Evangeline Walker in 1895 and continued to teach at Bryn Mawr, taking a leave sponsored by the Carnegie Institution in 1903-1904 to work on a guide to manuscripts in the British Museum. In 1904 he saw publication of his Colonial Self-Government, 1652-1689. By 1907 Andrews’s reputation was such that he was asked by Johns Hopkins to fill Adams’s chair. He moved to Johns Hopkins and published with Francis G. Davenport the Guide to the Manuscript Materials for the History of the United States to 1783 in the British Museum and Other Depositories (1908).

In 1910, Andrews moved to Yale to become professor of American history, edit the Yale Historical Series, and teach graduate courses in American colonial history. In 1912 another of his works, The Colonial Period, appeared. He became president of the American Historical Association. In 1925 His Colonial Background of the American Revolution (1924), regarded as one of his best books, maintains that an understanding of British colonial policy is essential to understanding the American Revolution. The next year Andrews became president of the association.

After his retirement from Yale in 1931, Andrews continued to labor on his final major work, The Colonial Period of American History (4 vols., 1934-1938), the first volume of which won a Pulitzer Prize. He died on Sept. 9, 1943.

John Williams Andrews was about seven when he pronounced on his father’s success. He and his parents left Bryn Mawr in the fall of 1907 and by the time John was ten, his father had moved to Yale. John attended the Taft School and Yale College where he was an editor of The Yale Book of Student Verse ((1919) with Stephen Vincent Benét and John Chipman Farrar. After college he worked as a journalist in China and New Haven, attended Yale Law School, and joined the New York law firm Root, Clark Buckner & Ballantine. In 1940 he moved to the United States Justice Department as chief of the Federal-State Relations Section, and later served as a trial attorney in the anti-Trust Division. He later turned to a career in public relations. He became editor of  the quarterly journal Post Lore. In 1963 he was co-recipient of the Robert Frost Poetry Award and edited Literary Quarterly.  The John Williams Andrews Narrative Poetry Prize was offered by Poet Lore in his honor. His books include Prelude to Icaros (Farrar & Rinehart  1936), Hill Country North (Branden Press, 1965), The Story of Flying (Robert J. Tyndall, 1968), and Triptych for the Atomic Age (Branden Press, 1970).

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