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Elliott Coleman papers

Identifier: MS-0013

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Scope and Contents

The collection consist of correspondence, manuscript poems, printed materials, and photographs. It spans the years 1932 to 1980 with the bulk of the material from 1978-1979. The papers deal with Coleman's poetry. His work in literary criticism and as director of The Writing Seminars is not represented in this collection.


  • Creation: 1932-1980


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Elliott Coleman was born on September 26, 1906 in Binghamton, New York, the son of a clergyman. He graduated from Wheaton College in 1928 and taught for 12 years at a boys school in Asheville, N.C. He then turned to theology, studying a year at the Princeton Theological School, and then Oxford University. In 1940 he went to New York to study at the General Theological Seminary. Coleman was ordained an Episcopal Deacon in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. While in New York, Coleman worked for two publishers: Henry Holt & Co. (1942-43) and Doubleday & Co. (1943-45).

In 1945 Coleman came to The Johns Hopkins University to reorganize the freshman writing course. The following year in September 1946 he founded the Department of Writing, Speech and Drama the predecessor to The Writing Seminars. He remained chairman of this department until his retirement in 1975.

Coleman was a scholar whose work dealt with the literary criticism of Marcel Proust, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce. He edited a volume of the poems of Byron, Keats, and Shelley and translated the poems of Pierre Emmanuel, Georges Poulet, and Alfredo Rizzandi. Coleman was also a poet and published more than a dozen volumes of poetry.

Coleman died on February 23, 1980 at the Stella Maris Hospice near Baltimore.


0.86 Cubic Feet (1 letter size document box, 1 legal size document box, 1 over-sized folder)

Language of Materials



Elliott Coleman founded the Department of Writing, Speech and Drama at Johns Hopkins University in September 1946, the predecessor to The Writing Seminars. The collection consist of correspondence, manuscript poems, printed materials, and photographs. It spans the years 1932 to 1980 with the bulk of the material from 1978-1979.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Part of this collection was donated by Elliott Coleman between 1963 and 1977. He donated the E.E. Cummings letters in 1963, the Andre Gide letter in 1975, and the Anais Nin letters in 1977. Coleman donated the manuscripts of "Mockingbirds at Fort McHenry" in 1965, "Encore" in 1965, and "Solo," "A Summer Sky," "Agony on the Chenango River," "Touch and Go," "Proses Out of the Deep," and "Proses Out of the Blue" in 1969. Coleman bequeathed to The Johns Hopkins University an oil portrait of himself by Elsa Frame Hutchins.

The remaining correspondence, poem manuscripts, and printed materials were part of Coleman's estate and donated to the Hamburger Archives on June 3, 1981 by Coleman's literary executor Louis D. Rubin, Jr. through Coleman's attorney Sandra Gohn. These manuscripts (Hamburger Archives accession number 81.18) were transferred to Special Collections January 6, 1982.

Printed materials, several with inscriptions to Elliott Coleman were added to the collection, June 1998. The materials had been filed in the Cage. The Accession Numbers are 93-94.1 and 93-94.4.

Related Materials

The Hamburger Archives has the official records of The Writing Seminars during the years 1947-1953 when Coleman was there.

Related Materials

Remarks made by Julia Randall at Coleman's memorial in 1980 and a note from 1951 between Randall and Coleman are filed in the Julia Randall collection regarding Elliott Coleman, Johns Hopkins University alumni collection, MS.0683, Special Collections.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Cynthia H. Requardt in 1989.

Elliott Coleman papers
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA