Emily Coleman

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Emily Coleman
Born 1899
Died 1974
Occupation writer

Emily Coleman (1899–1974) was an American born writer, and a lifelong compulsive diary keeper.[1] She also wrote a single novel, The Shutter of Snow (1930), published under the name Emily Holmes Coleman. This novel, about a woman who spends time in a mental hospital after the birth of her baby, was based on Coleman's own experience of spending time in an insane asylum after contracting puerperal fever and suffering a nervous breakdown.

Writings, diaries[edit]

The diaries she kept as an American expatriate in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, and in England in the 1940s through the 1960s, are valuable for chronicling her relationships with literary friends such as Djuna Barnes, who wrote much of her novel Nightwood while staying with Coleman and others at Peggy Guggenheim's country manor, Hayford Hall. She also wrote about John Ferrar Holms, Antonia White, Dylan Thomas, Phyllis Jones, George Barker, Gay Taylor, and a number of others.[2]

But Coleman's diaries and other writings are also fascinating psychological revelations of her "passionate," "impatiently earnest" self on an anxious life quest. Coleman was always striving for something in her diaries, for effectiveness as a writer, for a lucid mind, for passion in love, for a seemingly spiritual grace. On her thirty-first birthday in 1930, she reflected on the "conscious effect" of Dante's simple ending to the Inferno and Goethe's words on putting his life in order, comparing her efforts to write and to live with self-control.

Coleman's "spiritual odyssey" led her to the Catholic church. In her "efforts to discover God" she struck up a correspondence and later a personal acquaintance with French philosopher and theologian Jacques Maritain and his wife Raissa. She converted in 1944, and all of her writing afterwards was focused on her Catholic faith, which has been described as "mystical" and "fanatical."

Diary example[edit]

May 5, 1947 "But have I given Him my heart? There must be some holding back, or my difficulties with people wouldn't be as they are. Through long habit & also because of native ego (that is --a desire rampant in me from birth to impress & dominate people) I am weak and unconsciously become of the devil's party by thinking of myself instead of Him."[3]


  1. ^ Marling, William (2003-05-16). "(untitled black-and-white photograph of Emily Coleman)" (GIF). American Salons Web Project: Modernism: Gallery of Art and Photographs. Case Western Reserve University, Department of English. Retrieved 2006-06-14.  Note: the photographer is not cited on the site.
  2. ^ Marling, William (date unknown). "Gallery of Art and Photographs". American Salons Web Project: Modernism. Case Western Reserve University, Department of English. Retrieved 2006-06-14.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ Staff (2003-12-02). "Inner Journeys". University of Delaware Library: Special Collections department. University of Delaware. Retrieved 2006-05-14. 

External links[edit]