Robert Peter Tristram Coffin was born on March 18, 1892 in Brunswick, Maine, United States. He was the son of James William and Alice Mary Coombs Coffin. His father was a successful farmer, fisherman, and merchant of the Casco Bay region. Robert Coffin spent his earliest years on the remote island farms that his father bought and restored to productivity. After a few years of this activity the family moved back to the mainland and settled on a saltwater farm near Sebascodegan, nine miles from Brunswick. Here, as the poet recalled in Lost Paradise, the ten Coffin children "struck their roots down into the soil their father had cleared, " and here he found the central subjects of his poetry. Inspired by his father's enthusiasms, which included reading, storytelling, singing, and drawing, Coffin began at an early age to write stories and verse.