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Eloise Bethell Papers

Identifier: SC-MS-141

Scope and Contents

This collection contains materials pertaining to the life and career of Eloise Bethell, an artist who resided for many years in Wilmington, North Carolina. Included are correspondence, newspaper clippings, programs, publications, and original artwork that document Bethell's involvement in theater and modeling as a young woman, and the development of her career as an artist. Dates primarily span from the 1950s to the 1980s.

This collection also contains materials pertaining to Eloise Bethell's lifelong friendship with poet, Will Inman. The two were long-time collaborators and corresponders. Original poems written by Inman comprise the bulk of materials in this series with many including commentary or correspondence on the same page in his trademark style. Additional materials include newspaper clippings and publications related to Inman's work and career. Dates primarily span from the 1970s to the 1990s.


  • Creation: 1942-2000


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Eloise Bethell

Eloise Bethell was born Mary Eloise Bethell in Savannah, Georgia on May 7, 1934 to parents William Craig Pinckney Bethell and Mary Guerrant Mitchener. She was a graduate of New Hanover High School, and of Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina with a B.F.A in Theater.

Bethell received art training at various schools including Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, Instituto Allende in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Arts in Mexico, and Portlant State College in Oregon. She lived, studied and painted primarily in Paris, San Miguel Allend, and New York City; taught in Lebanon, Mexico, and the United States; and exhibited in France, Mexico, Lebanon, Canada, and the United States. She was also an exhibiting member of St. Johns Museum of Art and the Wilmington Art Museum, a member of the American Water Color Society, and an invitational member of Who's Who in the South and South West and The World's Who's Who of Women. Bethel opened a studio in Wilmington in 1978 and taught many art classes in the community in subsequent years.

She married Edward Van Duyn Wilkinson in 1961 with whom she had a son, Mikhael "Misha" Bethell Wilkinson (b. 1963). Bethell and her husband later divorced. Eloise Bethell died on January 21, 2004.

Will Inman

Will Inman was born as William Archibald McGirt in Wilmington, North Carolina on May 3, 1923. He grew up in a working-class family and attended New Hanover County public schools throughout his education as a child. In 1943, Inman graduated from Duke University with a B.A. in English and later worked in a shipyard and fish market in Winston Salem. Inman joined the Communist Party in 1947. He was called to appear before the House Committee of Unamerican Activities in 1956. Inman would withdraw from the party shortly after.

In 1953, he changed his name to Inman (his mother's maiden name) to embody the "Will In Man" in his poetry. He would leaglly change his name in 1973. Inman moved to New York City to become fully involved with his writing. Inman was influenced by the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Walt Whitman. During his time in New York City, Inman participated in poetry readings and clubs, which led him to teach a seminar at the Free University of New York. Starting in 1967, Inman taught poetry courses at the American University in Washington D.C. and Montgomery College in Maryland. He used his techniques from his Free University of New York seminars in these courses.

Inman had a son, William Stanley, with Violet Stanely. His son lived in Albany, New York with his mother and would visit Inman in the city. In 1969, Inman married Barbara Ann Sherman. Her poor health would move the couple to Tuscon, Arizona in 1973. Inman and Sherman got divorced in 1975, and he would remain in Arizona for the rest of his life and continue to publish his poetry there. Inman also participated in hosting poetry workshops in prisons and other charity work. On October 3, 2009, Inman passed away from Parkinson's Disease. He is best remembered for his poetry and activism.


3 Containers (Contains 3 document boxes.)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged in three series:

Series 1 Personal Papers:

Contains photos and articles from Bethell's later life, and her college theater and modeling careers.

Series 2 Artist's Papers:

Contains articles, programs, and prints pertaining to Bethell's art career

Series 3 Will Inman Papers:

Contains poems, articles, and correspondence sent by Will Inman.

Related Materials

The Collected Works of Will Inman, part of Special Collections' manuscript collections, contains more material pertaining to the relationship between Eloise Bethell and Inman.

Eloise Bethell Papers
Abigail Clanton
2022 March 25
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository