Richard David Ellmann (March 15, 1918 – May 13, 1987) was an American literary critic and biographer of the Irish writers James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. He won the U.S. National Book Award for Nonfiction for James Joyce (1959),which is one of the most acclaimed literary biographies of the 20th century. Its 1982 revised edition was similarly recognised with the award of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. Ellmann was a liberal humanist, and his academic work focused on the major modernist writers of the twentieth century.
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist, short story writer, poet, teacher, and literary critic. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in a variety of literary styles, most famously stream of consciousness. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, his published letters and occasional journalism.
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his criminal conviction for homosexuality, imprisonment, and early death at age 46.
The National Book Award for Nonfiction is one of four annual National Book Awards, which are given by the National Book Foundation to recognize outstanding literary work by U.S. citizens. They are awards "by writers to writers". The panelists are five "writers who are known to be doing great work in their genre or field".
Ellmann was born at Highland Park, Michigan, the second of three children (all sons) of James Isaac Ellmann, lawyer, a Jewish Romanian immigrant, and his wife, Jeanette Barsook, an immigrant from Kiev. He served in the United States Navy and Office of Strategic Services during World War II.He studied at Yale University, receiving his B.A. (1939), his M.A. (1941) and his PhD. (1947) for which he won the John Addison Porter Prize. In 1947 he was awarded a B.Litt degree (an earlier form of the M.Litt) from the University of Dublin (Trinity College), where he was resident while researching his biography of Yeats. As a Yale undergraduate (Jonathan Edwards College), Ellmann was a member of Phi Beta Kappa (scholastic honor society); Chi Delta Theta (literary honor society); and, with James Jesus Angleton, the Yale Literary Magazine (Executive Editorial Board). He achieved "Scholar of the Second Rank" (current equivalent: Magna Cum Laude). The 1939 Yale Banner (undergraduate yearbook) published an untitled Ellmann account (similar in concept and style to Oscar Wilde's parables which Ellmann later cited in his 1987 biography Oscar Wilde) of a chagrined Joseph, husband of Mary, and Jesus Christ's custodial father:
Highland Park is a city in Wayne County in the State of Michigan, within Metro Detroit. The population was 11,776 at the 2010 census. The city is completely surrounded by Detroit except for a small portion that touches the city of Hamtramck, which is also surrounded by Detroit.
Kiev or Kyiv is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine, located in the north-central part of the country on the Dnieper. The population in July 2015 was 2,887,974, making Kiev the 7th most populous city in Europe.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.
Joseph was no match for the angel and for Mary's flattering tears. He felt a wince of disappointment at the idea that she had had a vision too, but then she was his wife, and perhaps the whole family now had the prophetic gift. He would have to try it out, on the harvest. Meanwhile he would seek to forget his jealousy, despite the fact that the story sounded a bit fantastic to a reasonable man, which he guessed he was, and it would be well not to talk about it much outside. It was better to leave things the way they were. Not much of a wedding night, but one could tell white lies about that to one's friends.
Ellman later returned to teach at Yale, and there with Charles Feidelson Jr. He edited the important anthology, The Modern Tradition. He earlier taught at Northwestern, and at the University of Oxford, before serving as Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Professor from 1980 until his death.
The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's second-oldest university in continuous operation. It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled north-east to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two 'ancient universities' are frequently jointly referred to as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Oxford has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
Emory University is a private research university in the Druid Hills neighborhood of the city of Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia, by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory. In 1915, Emory College moved to its present location in Druid Hills and was rechartered as Emory University. Emory maintained a presence in Oxford that eventually became Oxford College, a residential liberal arts college for the first two years of the Emory baccalaureate degree. The university is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the United States.
He was Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature at Oxford University, 1970–1984, then professor emeritus, a fellow at New College, Oxford, 1970–1987, and an extraordinary fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford, from 1984 until his death.
New College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. Founded in 1379 by William of Wykeham, the full name of the college is St Mary's College of Winchester in Oxford. The name "New College", however, soon came to be used following its completion in 1386 to distinguish it from the older existing college of St. Mary, now known as Oriel College.
Wolfson College is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Located in north Oxford along the River Cherwell, Wolfson is an all-graduate college with over sixty governing body fellows, in addition to both research and junior research fellows. It caters to a wide range of subjects, from the humanities to the social and natural sciences. Like the majority of Oxford's newer colleges, it has been coeducational since its foundation in 1965.
Ellmann used his knowledge of the Irish milieu to bring together four literary luminaries in Four Dubliners: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and Beckett (1987), a collection of essays first delivered at the Library of Congress.
The Library of Congress (LOC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The Library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia. The Library's functions are overseen by the Librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the Architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress has claims to be the largest library in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."
His wife, Mary Ellmann (c. 1921 – 1989), whom he married in 1949, was an essayist. The couple had three children: Stephen (b. 1951), Maud (b. 1954), and Lucy (b. 1956), the first two became academics and the third a novelist and teacher of writing.
Ellmann died of motor neurone disease in Oxford at the age of 69.
Many of his collected papers, artifacts, and ephemera were acquired by the University of Tulsa's McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Other manuscripts are housed in the Northwestern University's Library special collections department.
In Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Ellmann drew on conversations with George Yeats along with thousands of pages of unpublished manuscripts to write a critical examination of the poet's life.
Ellmann is perhaps most well known for his literary biography of James Joyce, a revealing account of the life of one of the 20th century's most influential literary figures. Anthony Burgess called James Joyce "the greatest literary biography of the century."Edna O'Brien, the Irish novelist, remarked that "H. G. Wells said that Finnegans Wake was an immense riddle, and people find it too difficult to read. I have yet to meet anyone who has read and digested the whole of it—except perhaps my friend Richard Ellmann." Ellmann quotes extensively from Finnegans Wake as epigraphs in his biography of Joyce.
Ellman's biography Oscar Wilde won a Pulitzer Prize.In it he examined Wilde's ascent to literary prominence and his public downfall. Posthumously Ellmann won both a U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award in 1988 and the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Biography. The book was the basis for the 1997 film Wilde , directed by Brian Gilbert.
It is considered to be the definitive work on the subject.Ray Monk, a philosopher and biographer, described Ellmann's Oscar Wilde as a "rich, fascinating biography that succeeds in understanding another person".
The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature at Emory University were established in his honor.
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. His work was initially published in England before it was published in America. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech, Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is a Gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde, first published complete in the July 1890 issue of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. Fearing the story was indecent, the magazine's editor deleted roughly five hundred words before publication without Wilde's knowledge. Despite that censorship, The Picture of Dorian Gray offended the moral sensibilities of British book reviewers, some of whom said that Oscar Wilde merited prosecution for violating the laws guarding public morality. In response, Wilde aggressively defended his novel and art in correspondence with the British press, although he personally made excisions of some of the most controversial material when revising and lengthening the story for book publication the following year.
William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of the Irish literary establishment, he helped to found the Abbey Theatre, and in his later years served as a Senator of the Irish Free State for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival along with Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and others.
Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, nicknamed Bosie, was a British author, poet, translator, and political commentator, better known as the friend and lover of Oscar Wilde. Much of his early poetry was Uranian in theme, though he tended, later in life, to distance himself from both Wilde's influence and his own role as a Uranian poet. Politically he would describe himself as "a strong Conservative of the 'Diehard' variety".
Sir John Pentland Mahaffy, was an Irish classicist and polymathic scholar.
This schema for the novel Ulysses was produced by Joyce in 1920 to help a friend understand the fundamental structure of the book. The schema has been split into two subtables for better ease of reading.
John Crowe Ransom was an American educator, scholar, literary critic, poet, essayist and editor. He is considered to be a founder of the New Criticism school of literary criticism. As a faculty member at Kenyon College, he was the first editor of the widely regarded Kenyon Review. Highly respected as a teacher and mentor to a generation of accomplished students, he also was a prize-winning poet and essayist.
Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has also served as president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.
Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories by James Joyce, first published in 1914. They form a naturalistic depiction of Irish middle class life in and around Dublin in the early years of the 20th century.
Daniel Albright was the Ernest Bernbaum Professor of Literature at Harvard and the editor of Modernism and Music: An Anthology of Sources. He was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois and completed his undergraduate studies on a full scholarship at Rice in 1967. He received his MPhil in 1969 and PhD in 1970, both from Yale. Albright is also the author of the book Quantum Poetics which was published by Cambridge University Press in 1997. He held an NEH fellowship from 1973 to 1974, was a Guggenheim Fellow from 1976 to 1977, and more recently, he was a 2012 Berlin Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin.
"The Dead" is the final short story in the 1914 collection Dubliners by James Joyce. The other stories in the collection are shorter, whereas at 15,952 words, "The Dead" is almost long enough to be described as a novella.
Declan Kiberd is an Irish writer and scholar. He is known for his literary criticism of Irish literature in Irish and English, and his contributions to public cultural life.
The Countess Cathleen is a verse drama by William Butler Yeats in blank verse. It was dedicated to Maud Gonne, the object of his affections for many years.
Chamber Music is a collection of poems by James Joyce, published by Elkin Mathews in May 1907. The collection originally comprised thirty-four love poems, but two further poems were added before publication.
"The Decay of Lying – An Observation" is an essay by Oscar Wilde included in his collection of essays titled Intentions, published in 1891. This is a significantly revised version of the article that first appeared in the January 1889 issue of The Nineteenth Century.
Lucy Ellmann is an Anglo-American novelist who now lives in Scotland.
Oscar Wilde's colourful life and disappointing end have made him a continual fascination for biographers, beginning soon after his death by people known to him.