Padraic Colum papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Born Patrick Collumb on December 8, 1881 at Collumbkille, County Longford in Ireland, Padraic Colum was an Irish poet, playwright, and author.

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.

The first publication of Colum's writing was poems appearing 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 United 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 No. 6 (Spring 1967) pp. 50-67.

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

Scope and Content 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.