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Emily Holmes Coleman supplements

Identifier: MSS 0105s

Scope and Contents

This collection comprises two supplements to the exhisting MSS 0105 Emily Holmes Colemen papers. The supplements add correspondence, poems, photographs, artwork, a diary, miscellaneous documents, and some writing or art by others.


  • Creation: 1927-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1933-1967


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Biographical / Historical

American poet and novelist Emily Holmes Coleman was born January 22, 1899, in Oakland, California. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1920, and in 1921 married psychologist Loyd Ring Coleman. In 1926 Emily Coleman, with her son John, arrived in Paris where she worked as the society editor for the Paris Tribune (the European edition of the Chicago Tribune). While in Paris Coleman contributed articles, stories, and poems to transition and became acquainted with others who wrote for the magazine. Coleman also worked for one year as Emma Goldman’s secretary. She assisted at St. Tropez, during the period in which Goldman was writing her autobiography, Living My Life (1931). As an expatriate writer, Coleman continued to live in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s.

Although Emily Coleman's papers reveal her to be a prolific writer, her only published works were her contributions to little magazines, such as transition and New Review, and her autobiographical novel, The Shutter of Snow (1930). Based on her experiences as a victim of postpartum psychosis after the birth of her son, Shutter of Snow fictionalized her experiences as a patient in a mental hospital. Reviewers praised the novel as authentic and vivid.

Coleman's other writings also draw upon her personal experiences, particularly her strong religious beliefs. Following her conversion to Catholicism in 1944, Coleman’s stories, poetry, and diary entries focused almost exclusively on her Catholic faith, which has been described as mystical and fanatical.

Coleman's papers also reflect other elements of her life, for example her marriage (1940-1944) to Arizona rancher Jake Scarborough, the disavowal of this marriage following her Catholic conversion, her relationships to her son, grandchildren, and a diverse collection of friends. One particular group of friends in England, sometimes referred to as the "Hayford Hall Circle," is documented in her correspondence and diaries. Among this group were writers Djuna Barnes, John Holms, and Edwin Muir, as well as Peggy Guggenheim, Beatrix Wright, Antonia White, and others.

From 1944 until her death the focus of Coleman’s attention and activities was her religious life. She became involved with the Catholic left, developed friendships with Dorothy Day and Jacques and Raissa Maritain, and lived in a number of Catholic communities. At the time of her death on June 13, 1974, Coleman was being cared for by Catholic nuns at The Farm in Tivoli, New York.

Geddes, Minna Besser. "Emily Holmes Coleman," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 4:American Writers in Paris, 1920-1939. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1980. pp. 71-72. Contemporary Authors. Volume 105. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1981. p. 121.


8 linear foot

Language of Materials



This collection comprises two small supplements to the exhisting MSS 0105 Emily Holmes Colemen papers. The supplements adds correspondence, poems, photographs, artwork, miscellaneous documents, and a diary kept between 1970 and 1971.


Each of the two supplements making up this collection is organized seperately.

Processing Information

Finding aid encoded by Lauren Connolly, Oct 2015

Finding Aid for Emily Holmes Coleman supplements
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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Newark DE 19717-5267 USA