University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Padraic Colum Papers

1927 - 1970

Manuscript Collection Number: 147
Extent: 80 items (.25 linear ft.)
Content: Letters, manuscripts, notebook, ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991 by Tim Murray.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Born Patrick Collumb on 8 December 1881 at Collumbkille, County Longford in Ireland, Padraic Colum was the firstborn of eight children. He received eight years of formal education at the Glasthule National School in Sandy Cove, near Dublin. In 1901 Colum joined the Gaelic League and the Irish Republican Army and began to call himself Padraic Colum. Living in Dublin, he frequented the National Library, where he met James Joyce, with whom he developed a close friendship.

Colum's first published writings were poems which appeared in the Irish Independent and United Irishman in 1902. The first production of one of his plays occurred in 1903, with the Irish National Theatre Society's staging of Broken Soil at Molesworth Hall.

Colum became a member of the National Theatre Society and was an original Abbey Theatre charter signer; he wrote several of the Abbey Theatre's earliest plays. As Colum achieved success as a poet and playwright, he developed close relationships with a number of key figures in the Irish Literary Renaissance including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, George Russell, and James Stephens.

Colum migrated to the Unites States with his wife Mary in 1914, and began writing children's literature. Colum lived in France from 1930-1933 before returning to the Unites States and taking up permanent residence in Manhattan. In addition to writing, Colum began teaching at Columbia University in 1939.

During his lifetime Colum published over fifty books of poetry, fiction, drama, nonfiction, children's literature, and folklore. Padraic Colum died on January 11, 1972, in Endfield, Connecticut, at the age of 90.


Bowen, Zack. Padraic Colum. Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970.

Denson, Alan. "Padraic Colum: An Appreciation with a Checklist of His Publications." The Dublin Magazine 6 (Spring 1967): 50-67.

Sternlicht, Sanford. Padraic Colum. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1985.

Scope and Contents Note

Letters, newspaper clippings, printed ephemera, and manuscripts constitute the Padraic Colum Papers. The collection spans the dates 1927 to 1970, with its eighty items arranged in three series.

Series I contains a small group of newspaper clippings of published reviews of Colum's books. Most of the reviews were published in 1932 and critique his recently published Poems or his book of essays, A Half Day's Ride. The reviews are accompanied by two letters from Mary Phillips, who was a representative of Macmillan & Co. and reported on sales of Colum's books.

Series II consists of twenty-eight letters from Colum to author and theatrical producer Basil Burwell. The letters discuss productions of Colum's plays, personal matters, and general literary and business matters. One of Colum's letters includes two typescripts of his poem, "O'Connell Bridge," which bears revisions and corrections by both Burwell and Colum.

Series III contains manuscripts of Colum's poetry and plays, a notebook containing poetry and fiction, and printed ephemera. Autograph or typescript drafts of Colum's poems, "Cashel," "Flowers and Trees [collection]," "Lilac Blossoms," "Out in your garden the poppies and peonies," "Scanderberg," "Three poppies one above the other," and "Woodbine," are included. Typescript drafts of Colum's plays, Monasterboice, Balloon, and The Wakefield Second Nativity Play, plus an autograph draft of Justinian and Theodora are also present.

This series is completed by an autograph notebook, used by Colum to write several poems and a story titled "Joseph, or The Search for a Brother," and by two printed ephemeral items, which include poems written by Colum.

Related collections:

Ms 99 Padraic Colum letters to Edward Frank Allen (F453)
Ms 99 Padraic Colum letter to Mr. Gourley (F500)
Ms 99 Padraic Colum letter to Mary Ethel McAuley (F451)
Ms 103 John Malcolm Brinnin Papers
Ms 212 Lennox Robinson Papers related to John Quin
Ms 313 Archives of the Proscenium Press

Contents List

Folder -- Contents

     Series I.  Publisher's clipping file, 1927-1935

F 1  Newspaper reviews, 1927-1935
     Accompanied by several letters from Mary Phillips, reporting on book sales and a
     Christmas card from Suzanne and Herbert Hughes.  33 leaves

     Series II.  Letters from Colum to Basil Burwell, 1960-1969

F2   1960-1962
     5 leaves

F3   1963-1965
     6 leaves

F4   1966-1967
     Includes two typescripts of the poem, "O'Connell Bridge," by Colum, with revisions and
     corrections by both Burwell and Colum.  11 leaves

F 5  1969-1970 and [n.d.]
     9 leaves

     Series III.  Manuscripts of work by Padraic Colum, 1930-1964

     Series III.1.  Poetry, 1937 and [n.d.]
          Includes manuscripts of individual poems written by Padraic Colum.  Arranged
          alphabetically by title.

F6   "Cashel," [n.d.]
     Autograph, signed "Padraic Colum." 1 leaf

F7   "Flowers and Trees [collection]," [n.d.]
     Typescript and typescript (carbon), with minor autograph corrections.  28 leaves

F8   "Lilac Blossoms," [n.d.]
     Autograph, signed "Padraic Colum."  1 leaf

F9   "Out in your garden the poppies and peonies," [n.d.]
     Autograph, signed "Padraic Colum."  1 leaf

F10  "Scanderberg," 1937 Easter
     One autograph draft, signed and inscribed by the author "for Mary Phillips Easter 1937."
     Also a typescript draft with an autograph notation on verso and signed by Colum.

F11  "Three poppies one above the other," [n.d.]
     Typescript, signed "Padraic Colum."  1 leaf

F12  "Trees and Flowers [collection]," [n.d.]
     Typescript (carbon), signed and unattributed.  6 leaves

F13  "Woodbine," [n.d.]
     Typescript, signed "Padraic Colum."  2 leaves

     Series III.2.  Drama, 1964 and [n.d.]

F14  Balloon: A Play in Three Acts, [n.d.]
     Typescript (carbon), formerly bound in a blue binder which accompanies it.  60 leaves

F15  Justinian and Theodora:  A Play in Four Acts, [n.d.]
     Autograph play, written in two spiral notebooks.  46 leaves

F16  Monasterboice, 1964 Sep 28
     Typescript (carbon).  19 leaves

F17  The Wakefield Second Nativity Play, [n.d.]
     Typescript (carbon).  13 leaves

     Series III.3.   Miscellany, 1930-1937

F18  Autograph notebook, [1930]
     Bound blue cloth, the notebook contains  autograph poems and a story titled "Joseph, or
     The Search for a Brother."  22 leaves

F19  A Broadside, 1937 Nov
     Number 11 (New Series) published by Cuala Press.  Includes Colum's poem, "The
     Terrible Robber Men."  1 leaf 

F20  When the Swans Fly, [1930]
     Sheet music of song by Arthur Nevin, based on Colum's poem by the same title.  1 leaf

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