Colorado College Tutt Library

Bert Stiles Papers, 1920-1960, Ms 0095

Finding Aid created August, 1981. Revised September, 2001. Addition made January, 2002.


Bert Stiles was born in Denver, Colorado, August 30, 1920, the son of Bert Stiles, Sr., an electrical contractor, and Elizabeth Huddleston, a music teacher. He attended South High School in Denver, where he was, as he described it, a "victim" of progres-sive education. During the summers he worked as a junior forest ranger in Estes Park.

In the fall of 1938 he enrolled at Colorado College, where he pursued his interest in writing with vigor. He was a feature writer for The Tiger, often expressing his pacifist views in columns in the college paper. In June 1941, he locked himself up in a fraternity house and wrote twenty-seven stories.

He sent some of his short stories to agents Ruth and Max Aley in New York, who asked him to send more. Hocking everything he could, he began hitchhiking to New York. After being picked up by police and sent home twice, he finally delivered his stories to the Aleys who gave him a job as a handyman, set him up in the loft of their barn in Connecticut and helped him improve his writing. He wrote ten hours a day for two months. Finally in September his first story was accepted by the Saturday Evening Post. Soon afterwards he sold stories to Liberty and American magazine. The Saturday Evening Post accepted a whole series based on his experiences as a junior ranger in Estes Park.

In January 1943 he was accepted into the U. S. Air Force, receiving his commission as a second lieutenant in November. He left for a combat assignment in England in March, 1944. In England he flew daily on raids and wrote vigorous, fiery articles for the London Daily Mail. He found time to write instructive pieces for Air Force and his first and only book. That work, Serenade to the Big Bird, is a journal published by his mother after his death.

On November 26, 1944, Stiles was shot down in a P-15 while flying a fighter escort mission to Hanover, Germany, dying at the age of 23. The young veteran of 35 bomber missions received the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Purple Heart.

Scope and Content

The Bert Stiles Papers include letters, manuscripts, and memorabilia spanning his entire 23 years. Letters to his parents from publishers and military personnel following Stiles's death are also included. The collection contains approximately 70 of Stiles's short stories with reviewer comments and evaluations.

His letters to his parents during his college years are, according to his mother, "the best account of the boy's development from this time on: a year in school, the next semester out, spent with another 'paper' friend, . . . a turbulent year and a half (February 1940 - June 1941) at Colorado College; then a trek to New York and to Fairfield, Connecticut as a protege of Ruth and Maxwell Aley . . .". His letters during his Air Force days, which occasionally bear the mark of military censors, offer an intriguing glimpse into the daily life and thoughts of a young pilot during World War II.


Box 1

I. CORRESPONDENCE (folders 1-23)

Folder 1 1933-37 16 items transcription
Folder 2 1938 23 items
Folder 3 Jan - Jun 1939 29 items
Folder 4 Jul - Dec 1939 32 items
Folder 5 Jan - May 1940 19 items
Folder 6 Jun - Dec 1940 21 items
Folder 7 Jan - May 1941 23 items
Folder 8 Jun - Aug 1941 24 items
Folder 9 Sept - Dec 1941 23 items
Folder 10 1942 34 items
Folder 11 Jan - Jun 1943 40 items
Folder 12 Jul - Dec 1943 24 items

Box 2

Folder 13 Jan - Mar 1944 17 items
Folder 14 Apr - May 1944 14 items
Folder 15 Jun - Jul 1944 15 items
Folder 16 Aug - Sept 1944 13 items
Folder 17 Oct - Dec 1944 13 items
Folder 18 no date 4 items
Folder 19 Correspondence: Mrs. Bert Stiles, 1951-1952 9 items
Folder 20 Genealogy and biographical sketch 6 items
Folder 21 Receipts and checks 34 items
Folder 22 Memorabilia 17 items
Folder 23 Memorabilia concerning Stiles' death 6 items
Baby book 1 item

II. PHOTOGRAPHS (folders 24-27)

Folder 24 Photos 35 items
Folder 25 Photos-military 36 items
Folder 26 Photographs 13 items
Folder 27 Negatives 14 items

Box 3

III. MANUSCRIPTS (folders 28-38)

Folder 28 (11 items)

Log of Summer 1937
Aunt Cathie and the Search for Virility
Baseball is Serious
By This I Live
The Case of the Lucky Amateur (2 copies)
A Co-pilot's Education . . . (2 copies)
The Cowboy Goes to Town
Dancing Lady
Dear Mrs. Lefty

Folder 29 (11 items)

Death Stands By
Education as I See It
Fifteen is the Limit
First Mission
Fishing on the Arapahoe National Forest
Have You Tried?
Hit the Trail
I Worked N. Y. A.
I'm looking for a Girl
It Happened at Crazy Willy Pass

Folder 30 (9 items)

It Happens in Preflight
It's a Sad World Cardwell
Kit Carson the Second
The Land of the Arapahoe
Little Boy Blue
A Luck Charm Goes to College
Madamoiselle, I Love Vous
Maybe This is It
Moon Boy
Moonstar Jones

Folder 31 (8 items)

Murder Rides the Ski-Ways
National Tournament
On Getting in the Mood
The Other Side of Progressive Education
Our Corner of Paradise
Pay Off
Portrait of a Commando . . .
Portrait of a Prom Queen
Portrait of a Guy Thinking About Voting
Portrait of a Guy With Blood on His Hands
Portrait of a Lonely One
Portrait of a Sad Sack

Folder 32 (10 items)

Portrait of the World from 20,000 . . .
The Quintessence of Sport
The Ranger Comes Back
The Ranger Comes Home
The Ranger Goes to Town
The Ranger is a Dame
The Ranger is a Sad Sack
The Ranger is a Snow Man
The Ranger Meets the Family (2 copies)

Folder 33 (9 items)

The Ranger Takes a Honeymoon
The Ranger Takes a Wife
The Return of Pegasus
The River and I and the Fish . . .
Rocky Mountain Wildlife
Sammy Newton's Crew
Serenade to an Air Medal
Shining Armor
Skis for Snowshoes
Smashing Waters

Folder 34 (10 items)

Somebody Got Left
Someday I'll Be Back
Someday We Will Wander (2 copies)
Sun Valley Susan
This Is Where We Live
To the People Below
Water Monster
Wildcatter (2 copies)

Box 4

Folder 35 Misc. untitled fragments. Includes "excerpt from letters of Bert Stiles to Kermit
Livingston." 4 items
Folder 36 Serenade to the Big Bird (typescript)
Folder 37 "Date with a Blue Lady" unpublished manuscript.
Folder 38 "Date with a Blue Lady" original typescript

Box 5

Folder 39 "Date with a Blue Lady" (photocopy)


Folder 40 1939-1944 10 items
Folder 41 1945 30 items
Folder 42 1946-1947 13 items
Folder 43 1948-1953 26 items
Folder 44 1954-1960 24 items
Folder 45 Miscellaneous. Includes an address book, a CC commencement program, and the March 20, 1943 issue of The Tale Spinner with Bert Stiles listed as a contributor. 11 items


"Portrait of a Guy Thinking About an Island" in Air Force, November 1944
Letter from Bert Stiles, p. 30 and 60, Air Force January 1945
"Situation Normal" in Air Force, February 1945
"It's a Sad World, Cardwell" in The American, April 1942
"The Case of the Lucky Amateur" in The Writer, June 1943
"Solo" in Yank, October 15, 1943

Box 6

Serenade to the Big Bird, Lindsay Drummond, Ltd., 1947. 8 copies
Serenade to the Big Bird, New York: Ballantine Books, 1952. 1 copy

Box 7

2 copies of Date with a Blue Lady manuscript. (Robert Floyd Cooper's biography of Stiles, published as Serenade to the Blue Lady: The Story of Bert Stiles, Fort Bragg, CA: Cypress House, 1993.)

Box 8 - Issues of The Saturday Evening Post containing stories by Bert Stiles.

November 22, 1941: "You Can't Win with Women" (2 copies)
December 6, 1941: "The Ranger Takes a Wife" (2 copies)
April 4, 1942: "The Ranger Meets the Family" (2 copies)
December 19, 1942: "The Ranger is a Snow Man" (2 copies)
May 5, 1945: "Mademoiselle, I Love Vous" (1 copy)

Box 9 - Addition, January 2002, Gift of Elizabeth Stiles via Robert F. Cooper - short stories, many with autograph annotations, and miscellaneous

Folder 1

Back to the Dark
Baseball is Serious
Battle at Spruce Cone
Blitzkreig on the Fraternity
Blitzkreig on the Fraternity
The Breakers
The Challenge
Christmas Seranade
A Co-Pilot's Education

Folder 2

Cut 'Em Loose
Dancing Lady
Dear Mrs. Lefty…
Dream Something Up
Eight O' Clock
First Mission
Fish Thieves
Gold Digger's Ball
The Hitch-Hiker and the Lady
Hogan Seranade
Housemother- a screenplay

Folder 3

Joy of Life
Kit Carson the Second
Laughing at the World
The Legion Revenge
A Luck-Charm Goes to College
Madame, I Need a Ride
Maybe This Is It
A Matter of Rhythm- renamed Midnight Serenade

Folder 4

Moon Boy
Moon Over Hollywood
Mountains are Bigger
The Music of Eternity- formerly The Valley of the Echo
National Tournament
Night Time Gal
Night Time Gal
No Choice

Folder 5

One Year, One Lifetime
Our Prize Pledge
Out of Moonlight
Pikes Peak in June
Portrait of a Commando
Portrait of a Guy with Blood on His Hands
Folder 5 cont'd
Portrait of a lonely one…
Portrait of a Sad Sack

Folder 6

Portrait of the World from 20,000
The Prodigy and the Moose
The Ranger Comes Home
The Ranger Goes to War
The Ranger is a Sad Sack
The Return of Pegasus
Right Off the Corner
The River and I and the Fish
Sammy Newton's Crew
School Was Out
Serenade to and Air Medal
Shining Armor [aka It Couldn't Last]
Skier of the Sky
Someday We Will Wander
Something is Different

Folder 7

Sometime in Heaven
Sun Valley Susan
Theme and Variation
This is Where We Live
To the People Below
The White Hope and My Old Man
Wilderness Honeymoon
It Happens in Preflight [aka Check Ride]
A Word on Education

Folder 8 - Miscellaneous

5 typed poems (Drunken Night, Trail Ridge, Skier, Northern Night, Road Camp) with typed note "This is the great poetry that won the Bridges Poetry Prize for me when I was a sophomore….long ago….but it was a great day…."
Article: "The Life and Times of Bert Stiles" from the Spring 1942 issue of Phi Gamma Delta Quarterly
Letter from Bert Stiles to "Maxwell," December 22, 1941, beginning "Here is the first of the great experiment. Maybe it's good."

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