Elizabeth Coltman was the youngest daughter of John (c.1715-c.1800) and Bridget Coltman (1716-1802) of the Newarke, Leicester. She had two other sisters: Anne (1753-88), who attended boarding school in Hackney at the same time as Mary Steele, and Mary (1757-1834), who married John Grew of Birmingham and emigrated to America in 1795. Coltman never married, but lived in a comfortable affluence all her life, traveling on many occasions to see Mary Steele at Broughton, taking excursions to the Lake District (of which she published an account in the Monthly Magazine), and visiting other friends in various places, including London. She met Mary Scott, the Attwater sisters, and Mary Steele’s younger half-sisters and Wakeford cousins during her visits to Broughton, and joined with them in writing poetry. She also introduced Mary Steele to her own coterie of women writers and socialites in Leicester, including Susanna Watts, Elizabeth Heyrick, Catherine Hutton, and Mary Reid. Two prose pieces by Coltman appeared anonymously in the Monthly Magazine, one of which included three poems; her other publications were moral tracts designed for young people, which also contained poetry.
Coltman’s extant manuscript poetry and prose works can be found in Timothy Whelan, Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vols 4 (pp. 215-34) and 7 (pp. 275-326). For the disentangling of the families, friendships, and publications of the two Elizabeth Coltmans, see Timothy Whelan, “Elizabeth Coltman,” ch. 6 in Other British Voices: Women, Poetry, and Religion 1766-1840 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 155-97; also idem, “Informal Writings and Literary History: The Case of a Provincial Women’s Literary Circle, 1799-1814,” in Informal Romanticism, ed. James Vigus. Studien zur Englischen Romantik, vol, 11 (Trier, Germany: Wissenshaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2012), 173-88.
Bust of Elizabeth Coltman, c. 1792, by Eleanor Coade of London, a Baptist, given to Mary Steele c. 1794; bust now belongs to the Leicester Museum.
Works by Elizabeth Coltman
Plain Tales, Chiefly Intended for the use of Charity Schools. London: Vernor and Hood, 1799.
“Journal, written during a Hasty Ramble to the Lakes.” Monthly Magazine 10 (August and September, 1800): 11–16, 119–23.
“Memoir, Mrs. John Coltman.” Monthly Magazine 14 (November 1802): 363–64.
Plain Tales; or, The Advantages of Industry. By E**** C******. Author of “Instructive Hints” &c. . . . To which is added, The Happy School-Girl. 3rd ed. London: Printed for the Author and sold by Darton & Harvey, 1806.
The Warning. Recommended to the Serious Attention of all Christians, and Lovers of their Country. London: Darton and Harvey [c. 1805]. Reprint. Philadelphia: Kimber, Conrad, and Co., 1807.
Instructive Hints in Easy Lessons for Children. London: Darton and Harvey, 1806. Reprint. Philadelphia, 1808; Utica, NY: Seward and Williams, 1810.
Familiar Letters Addressed to Children and Young Persons of the Middle Ranks. London: Darton and Harvey, 1811.
The History of Jenny Hickling; a Living Character. London: Tilling and Hughes, undated [c. 1815].
The History of Jenny Hickling: An Authentic Narrative. London: Religious Tract Society; New York: The American Tract Society, undated [c.1822].
The Schoolmistress; or, The True History of Jenny Hickling; who was Bedridden from the time she was Thirteen Years old; and an account of the manner in which she taught her Scholars. London: Printed by Augustus Applegath and Edward Cowper for the Religious Tract Society, undated.