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Kathleen Coburn was an award winning academic and professor of English. She was born in Stayner, Ontario, the daughter of John Coburn and Susannah Wesley Emerson. She died in Toronto, Ontario.
Coburn was educated at Harbord Collegiate Institute in Toronto. She received a B.A. (1928) and an M.A. (1930) from Victoria College, University of Toronto. She proceeded to St. Hugh's College, Oxford, England, where she obtained her B. Litt. in 1932. The same year, she returned to Toronto and accepted a position as an instructor in the English Department of Victoria College. She also served as Assistant to the Dean of Women (1932-1935). She was appointed Professor of English at Victoria College in 1953 and Professor Emeritus in 1971. Her academic interest focused on English literature and the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Coburn received honourary doctorates from several universities, including Queen's University (1964), Trent University (1973), Canterbury (1975), University of British Columbia (1976), and University of Toronto (1978). She became honourary fellow of St. Hugh's College, Oxford, England in 1970. She was the recipient of several academic awards, including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship to study the unpublished writings of Coleridge in 1953 and 1957/58, the Leverhulme Award in 1948, the Order of Canada in 1974, the Chauveau Medal in 1979, and the Rosemary Crawshay Prize in 1990.
Coburn edited The Philosophical Lectures of S.T. Coleridge (1949) and The Letters of Sara Hutchison (1954). She was the general editor of The Collected Works of S.T. Coleridge (1968-). Her other publications include: The Grandmothers (1949), Inquiring Spirit (1951, 1979), In Pursuit of Coleridge (1977), and many articles, essays and published lectures.