University of New England - Innovation for a Healthier Planet

Miriam Colwell collection, 1945-1998

Full finding aid (pdf)

Collection Scope and Content

This collection includes an article about Miriam Colwell and Clifford S. Reynolds (Precursors of the “real” Maine by Sanford Phippen), reviews, and publishers’ manuscripts for three of her books – Wind Off the Water, Day of the Trumpet and Young.

Biographical/Historical 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.