by George J. Dance


Helena Coleman (1860-1953) in Canadian Singers and their Songs, 1919. Courtesy Internet Archive.

Helena Coleman
Coleman in Canadian Poets, 1916.
Born Helena Jane Coleman
April 27, 1860
Newcastle, Ontario
Died December 7, 1953
Pen name various (see article)
Nationality Canada Canadian
Citizenship British subject
Alma mater Ontario Ladies College
Notable work(s) Songs and Sonnets
Relative(s) A.P. Coleman, brother

Helena Jane Coleman (April 27, 1860 - December 7, 1953) was a Canadian poet, teacher and musician.[1]


Coleman was born and raised in Newcastle, Ontario,[2] the daughter of Emmeline Maria (Adams) (the sister of education reformer Mary Electa Adams) and Rev. Francis Coleman, a Methodist clergyman. Her brother, A.P. Coleman, was a well-known geologist.[3]

She was educated at the Ontario Ladies' College in Whitby, Ontario. [2] She graduated with a Gold Medal in Music. She became a teacher in the College's Music Department, and (except for a one-year leave of absence to pursue post-graduate work in Germany) served as Department Head from 1880 to 1892.[4]

Later she lived with her brother, A.P. Coleman, in Toronto and at their summer cottage, "Pinehurst," in the Thousand Islands.[4]

Coleman wrote poetry for years, publishing in The Atlantic Monthly and other magazines; however, as she used pseudonyms, only a few intimate friends knew.[3] Pseudonyms she is known to use include: Caleb Black, Catherine G. Brown, H.C., Helen Gray Cone, H.S.C., Hollis Cattwin, L.D. Clark, Winifred Cotter, Winnifred Cotter, A.T. Cottingham, Winnifred Ford, C.H., Mrs. R.H. Hudson, Hollis Hume, Shadwell Jones, Annie Lloyd, M.D. Merrivale, Helen Saxon, Helen A. Saxon, Emily A. Sykes, and Gwendolen Woodworth.[4]

In 1906 her debut collection of poetry, Songs and Sonnets, was published by the Tennyson Club of Toronto. It was well received by the critics, and a 2nd printing soon followed.[3]

Coleman was a member of the Authors Society, the Canadian Authors Association, the Rose Society, and the University Women's Club in Toronto.[4]

In 1917 Coleman released a book of war poetry, Marching Men: War verses, which was widely praised for its "patriotic fervor."[5]

Songs, a selection from her earlier works, was published in 1937.[6]


Reviewing Coleman's Songs and Sonnets, in the Canadian Magazine, W.T. Allison wrote: "Her command of rhythm is very pleasing, and because of her love of Latinized English, reaches a certain degree of opulence which cannot fail to give any lover of cadence great delight. Yet in spite of her love for colour and sonority our new poet is at all times eminently clear." He added: "Miss Coleman has much in common with Matthew Arnold. Just as he did, she knows how to combine concreteness of colour, with a certain noble simplicity and restraint of style, and like Arnold, she likes best of all to devote her thought to the deep things of the soul.... She knows life in its sadness, gladness and beauty, and sings of it in relation to Nature and to God."[3]

While her 2nd book, Marching Men, was widely celebrated for its patriotic sentiments, The Rebel Magazine at the University of Toronto praised it for going beyond simple patriotism, calling the book the sort of "true poetry [that] begins to issue forth" in a crisis "like the blood of the grapes, crushed in the winepress of affliction."[5]



Short fictionEdit

  • Sheila and Others: The simple annals of an unromantic household (as "Winifred Cotter."). Toronto: E.P. Dutton, 1920.[4]

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[7]

See alsoEdit




  1. Coleman, Helena Jane. Canada's Early Women Writers, Simon Fraser University. Web, Nov. 11, 2013.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Selected Poetry of Helena Jane Coleman: Biographical information," Representative Poetry Online, Web, June 12, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 John W. Garvin, "Helena Coleman," Canadian Poets (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916), 206, Celebration of Woman Writers,, Web, June 12, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 "Helena Coleman (1860-1953): Biographical Sketch," Victoria University Library,, Web, June 12, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Helena Coleman," Canadian Poetry from World War I (Toronto: Oxford, 2009), 44-45. Print.
  6. Helena Coleman, Songs: Being a Selection of Earlier Sonnets and Lyrics (Toronto: Ryerson, 1937), Web, June 12, 2011.
  7. Search results = au:Helena Coleman, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Nov. 11, 2013.

External linksEdit

This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:Helena Coleman.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
This is a signed article by User:George Dance. It may be edited for spelling errors or typos, but not for substantive content except by its author. If you have created a user name and verified your identity, provided you have set forth your credentials on your user page, you can add comments to the bottom of this article as peer review.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.