Biography and History

Edmund (Mike) Leroy Keeley, author, translator, educator, critic, and administrator, was born in Damascus, Syria, on February 5, 1928, one of three sons of James Hugh Keeley, an American diplomat. When he was three, the family moved to Canada for five years. He lived in Greece from ages 8 to 11, receiving his primary education in Thessaloniki. In 1939, the family moved to Washington, D. C., where he attended high school. In 1948, Keeley earned a B. A. from Princeton University and was a Fulbright Scholar and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow. He went on to receive a Doctorate in Comparative Literature from Oxford University in 1952. While at Oxford, he met and married Mary Stathatos-Kyris, a Greek woman, with whom he later collaborated on several translation projects.

Keeley returned to Greece as a Fulbright teacher of English at the American Farm School from 1949 to 1950. He was an instructor of English at Brown University from 1952 to 1953, and, the following year, instructor of English at Salonika University.

The year 1954 began Edmund Keeley's long and productive career at Princeton University. From 1954 to 1957, he was an instructor of English. In 1957, he became an assistant professor, holding that position until 1963, when he was promoted to associate professor. In 1970, he became a full professor of English and creative writing, continuing in that capacity until his retirement in 1993.

Edmund Keeley was co-chairman of the program in comparative literature (1964 to 1965) and chairman of the Hellenic Studies Program (1985). During his career at Princeton Keeley held directorships in the Creative Arts Program (1966 to 1971), the Creative Writing and Theatre Program (1971 to 1973), and the Creative Writing Program (1974 to 1981). In addition to his full schedule at Princeton, Keeley held various offices outside of Princeton's walls. He was president of the Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA) from 1970 to 1973, and from 1980 to 1981. From 1977 to 1979, he was vice-president of the Poetry Society of America, and he was president of P.E.N. American Center from 1992 to 1993.

Keeley has received considerable recognition for many of his six novels, fourteen volumes of poetry in translation, and five volumes of nonfiction. His first novel, The Libation, won him the Prix de Rome of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1959 and an honorable mention in the New Jersey Author's Award the following year. His translation in Six Poets of Modern Greece, which he edited with Philip Sherrard, won the Guiness Poetry Award in 1962. Keeley captured the New Jersey Author's Award two more times: in 1968 for George Seferis: Collected Poems, 1924-1955, and for his third novel, The Impostor, in 1970. In 1973 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow for the second time, having received his first Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Writing in Fiction in 1959. C. P. Cavafy: Selected Poems was nominated for a National Book Award in Translation, also in 1973. Other awards which Keeley won are the Columbia University Translation Center/P.E.N. Translation Award (1975), a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation (1976), the Harold Laudon Morton Translation Award of the Academy of American Poets (1980), the Behrman Award for distinguished achievement in the humanities (1982), the P.E.N./National Endowment for the Arts Fiction Syndicate Award (1983), and the Pushcart Prize Anthology Award (1984).

Other titles penned or translated by Keeley are The Gold-Hatted Lover (1961), Vassilis Vassilikos: The Plant, the Well, the Angel: A Trilogy (translated with Mary Keeley in 1964), Four Greek Poets (1970), C. P. Cavafy: Passions and Ancient Days (1971), Modern Greek Writers (1972), Voyage to a Dark Island (1972), Odysseus Elytēs: The Axion Esti (1972), C. P. Cavafy: Collected Poems(1975), Cavafy's Alexandria: Study of a Myth in Progress (1976), Modern Greek Poetry (1983), A Wilderness Called Peace (1985), and School for Pagan Lovers (1993).

Publications by Keeley: The Gold-Hatted Lover (Boston: Little, Brown, 1961), The Imposter (N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979), The Libation (N.Y.: Scribner's, 1958), School for Pagan Lovers (N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1993), Six Poets of Modern Greece (London: Thames & Hudson, 1960), Voyage to a Dark Island (N.Y.: Modern Literary Editions, 1972), A Wilderness Called Peace (N.Y.: Simon & Schuster, 1985)

Source: From the finding aid for C0763

  • P.E.N. American Center Records. 1922-2008 (inclusive), 1930-1989 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0760

    Consists of files created by P.E.N. American Center as part of its regular business operations since its founding in 1922. Includes material on governance and policies, programs, awards and financial aid granted to authors, and the center's involvement with International P.E.N. and other P.E.N. organizations worldwide. The collection is especially notable for its extensive author correspondence and occasional original manuscripts.

  • Edmund Keeley Papers. 1910-2013 (inclusive), 1960-2011 (bulk).

    Call Number: C0763

    Edmund Keeley (1928-) is an author, translator, and Charles Barnwell Straut Professor Emeritus of English at Princeton University, best known for his translations and writings on Greek poets C. P. Cavafy, George Seferis, Odysseus Elytēs and Giannēs Ritsos. The papers consist of Keeley's drafts and proofs of translations, fiction, and nonfiction, including novels, articles, essays, introductions, reviews, and other writings, as well as for works he edited, along with personal and professional correspondence, faculty material, files of the P.E.N. American Center and other institutions with which he was involved, awards and speeches, biographical materials, family papers, scrapbook and other printed materials, manuscripts of others, and photographs.

  • Kaiē Tsitselē Papers. 1898-2001 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0801

    Consists of personal papers of Kaiē Tsitselē, Greek author and translator, who contributed to the dissemination of the Modern Greek literature outside Greece. The collection consists of manuscripts of some of Tsitselē's novels, short stories, radio scripts, and book reviews along with her English translations of Greek works. Correspondence with her friends and colleagues completes the collection.

  • Modern Greek Studies Association Archives. 1968-2006 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0821

    Consists jointly of the files of the Modern Greek Studies Association (MGSA), established in 1968, and its official publication, the Journal of Modern Greek Studies , which began in 1983.