Kate Tryon collection, 1928-1974
Collection Scope and Content
This collection includes newspaper articles, catalogs from a 1972 exhibit of Tryon’s work, and a number of paintings by Tryon. Maine Women Writers Collection also holds a copy of the 2-volume Adventures in the Vale of the White Horse and 14 books by Richard Jefferies from Tryon’s personal library. Jefferies titles are all rebound in green with gold-embossed lettering on the spine. A biographical sketch is found in the Sylvia Tryon papers.
Kate Tryon was born in 1865 in Naples, Maine. Her family moved to Portland when she was seven and she attended Portland High School, where she met her future husband, James L. Tryon, before moving with her family to upstate New York and finishing school at Massena Academy. The couple lived in Portland for a time before moving to Boston where Kate became a special writer for the Boston Advertiser while James studied at Harvard. While typing notes for the famed ornithologist William Brewster, Tryon decided to support herself by giving lectures on birds. She made slides to accompany her presentations and became a popular lecturer on New England birds. Tryon continued her studies of birds and became particularly interested in the English nature writer Richard Jefferies. Kate was eager to go to England and research English birds but James felt called to attend theological seminary so she was unable to go at that time. After his schooling, they moved to Attleboro, Massachusetts and started a church.
Though outwardly happy, Kate was frustrated that she was unable to pursue her dreams but soon enough she was able to study painting at the Rhode Island School of Design. Eventually Kate did go to England to visit Jefferies’ birthplace, where she painted and wrote about her experiences in Adventures in the Vale of the White Horse. Her visits there were some of the happiest times in her life. The manuscript was eventually published in 2010, 100 years after it was written, in a limited edition of 100. Tryon later visited southern France, returning with many paintings. Her manuscript An Artist Afoot in Southern France was based on that trip. Tryon’s paintings have hung in numerous colleges around New England. She died in 1952.