Elizabeth Coltman (1761–1838)

Part of the Nineteenth-Century Major Lives and Letters book series (19CMLL)


In the mid-1780s the Steele circle expanded beyond the West Country to Leicester, in the Midlands, welcoming Elizabeth Coltman as the final addition to the second generation centered upon Mary Steele. Coltman and her sisters were educated at a boarding school at Stoke Newington, Hackney, possibly the same boarding school Mary Steele attended between 1766 and early 1769, but, if not, one close enough that the girls may have attended the same dissenting chapel (Skillington 8). Most likely Elizabeth came to know Mary Steele through her older sister Anne Coltman (1753–88), who was born the same year as Steele and would have attended school either with Steele or possibly Mary Scott. Elizabeth Coltman was eight years Steele’s junior and it seems unlikely she would have attended boarding school at the same time, although it is possible that in autumn 1768 or the early months of 1769 (Steele’s last term in London), Anne, Elizabeth, and their other sister Mary (1757–1834), at that time aged 15, 11, and 7, could have been attending together. Whatever the case, Steele’s friendship with Coltman flourished in the 1780s, with Coltman evenutally succeeding Mary Scott as Steele’s “kindred soul.”


Lake District Young Reader Woman Writer Reveal Authorship Mutual Friend 
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© Timothy Whelan 2015

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