Richard Ellmann

Dafato Team | Dec 26, 2023

Table of Content


Richard Ellmann (Highland Park, March 15, 1918 - Oxford, May 13, 1987) was an American literary critic and biographer. He was a specialist in biographies of Irish writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. In particular, his biography of James Joyce (1959), which won him the National Book Award the following year, is considered one of the best biographies of the 20th century, and-in the revised version of 1982-was further awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His biography of Oscar Wilde earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Biography and Autobiography in 1989.

He was born-the second of three boys-to James Isaac Ellmann, a Jewish-Romanian lawyer who immigrated to the U.S., and his wife, Jeanette Barsook, who also moved from Kiev. He studied at Yale University (of which he would later become a professor), where, with Charles Feidelson, Jr. he gave to print the supremely important anthology The Modern Tradition.

He first taught at Northwestern, and later at Oxford, before taking up service (for a lavish salary, moreover) as Robert W. Woodruff Professor at Emory University (in Georgia), a position he held from 1980 until his death.

He passed away at the age of 69. His wife Mary (1921 ? - 1989) was an essayist. They were married in 1949. They had three children, Stephen, Lucy (born 1956) and Maud (born 1954). The latter are a novelist and a university lecturer, respectively.

In Yeats: The Man and the Masks, Ellmann profited from his conversations with George Yeats and thousands of pages of unpublished manuscripts to compile a critical examination of the poet's life.

His biography Oscar Wilde - 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner - is universally judged to be a landmark. Capturing the generous and sympathetic spirit of that legendary genius, it examines Wilde's rise to literary excellence and the collapse of his public image. The 1997 film Wilde, directed by Brian Gilbert, was based on this book.

Despite these already brilliant intellectual performances, Ellmann is probably best known for his masterful literary biography of James Joyce, a particularly instructive account of the life of one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century literature. Anthony Burgess called this text "the greatest literary biography of the century."

Ellmann uses his consummate knowledge of the Irish milieu to unite four literary luminaries in Four Dubliners: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and Samuel Beckett, a collection of essays initially donated to the Library of Congress.

He was Goldsmiths' professor of English literature at Oxford University from 1970 to 1984, then Professor Emeritus and a member of New College, Oxford between 1970 and 1987.

Many papers and objects collected by Ellmann were acquired by the University of Tulsa . Other manuscripts are kept at Northwestern University, special collections library department.


  1. Richard Ellmann
  2. Richard Ellmann
  3. ^ Richard Ellmann: A Chronology, The University of Tulsa.
  4. ^ Intitolata semplicemente James Joyce.
  5. ^ (EN) Biography winners, su URL consultato il 1º maggio 2020.
  6. ^ (EN) Past winners, su URL consultato il 1º maggio 2020 (archiviato dall'url originale il 12 settembre 2019).
  7. ^ (EN) Oscar Wilde, by Richard Ellmann (Alfred A. Knopf), su URL consultato il 1º maggio 2020.
  8. ^ McFarlin Library, Department of Special Collections and University Archives.
  9. 1 2 Richard Ellmann // Encyclopædia Britannica (англ.)
  10. 1 2 Richard Ellmann // Babelio (фр.) — 2007.
  11. Bench & Bar of Michigan
  12. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Book of Members (PDF). Abgerufen am 18. April 2016

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