File B1986-0046 - Frye, Herman Northrop (oral history)

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UTA 5001-B1986-0046

Title

Frye, Herman Northrop (oral history)

Date(s)

  • Jul-Oct 1982 (Creation)

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7 sound tape reels and 7 cassettes (198 mins.)

Context area

Name of creator

(1912-1991)

Biographical history

Herman Northrop Frye (1912–1991) was an internationally recognized literary scholar and academic. He was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, the son of Herman Edward Frye and Catherine Maud Howard. He married Helen Kemp in 1937. Two years after her death in 1986 he married Elizabeth Brown. He died in Toronto, Ontario.

Frye spent his childhood in Quebec and New Brunswick. His primary and secondary education in Moncton, New Brunswick, was followed by a business training-course. In 1929 he entered Victoria College, Victoria University at the University of Toronto. He graduated in 1933 in the Honour Course in Philosophy and English. He then studied theology at Emmanuel College, Victoria University, and was ordained to Ministry of the United Church of Canada in 1936. He attended Merton College, Oxford, England from 1936 to 1937 and from 1938 to 1939. He graduated with first class honours in the English School and received an Oxford M.A. in 1940.

In 1939 Frye joined the Department of English at Victoria College as a Lecturer. He became Assistant Professor in 1942, Associate Professor in 1946, Professor in 1947, Chairman of the Department of English at Victoria College in 1952, and Principal of Victoria College in 1959. In 1967 he retired as Principal and became University Professor at the University of Toronto. He continued to teach as Professor of English at Victoria College. From 1978 until his death he was Chancellor of Victoria University.

Frye lectured at over one hundred universities in Canada, the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia, Japan, New Zealand, Italy, Israel, Australia and the former Soviet Union. He taught a full term or a summer session at Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, Indiana, Washington, British Columbia, Cornell, Berkeley and Oxford. He gave many special lectures for endowed lecture series. During his career he received numerous awards and honourary degrees, including Companion of the Order of Canada (1972), the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction for Northrop Frye on Shakespeare (1987) and the Mondello Prize (1990) in Italy for his lifetime dedication to literature.

Frye edited fifteen books, contributed essays and chapters to over sixty others and published over one hundred articles and reviews, including: Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake (1947), Anatomy of Criticism (1957), The Well-Tempered Critic (1963), The Educated Imagination (1963), T.S. Eliot (1963), Fables of Identity (1963), A Natural Perspective (1965), The Return of Eden (1965), Fools of Time (1967), The Modern Century (1967), A Study of English Romanticism (1968), The Stubborn Structure (1970), The Bush Garden (1971), The Critical Path (1971), The Secular Scripture (1976), Spiritus Mundi (1976), Northrop Frye on Culture and Literature (1978), Creation and Recreation (1980), The Great Code (1982), Divisions on a ground (1982), The Myth of Deliverance: Reflections on Shakespeare’s Comedies (1983), Northrop Frye on Shakespeare (1986), No Uncertain Sounds (1988), Northrop Frye on Education (1988), Myth and Metaphor: Selected Essays, 1974–1988 (1990), Words with Power (1990), Reading the World-Selected Writings, 1935–1976 (1990), The Double Vision (1991), and A World in Grain and Sand: Twenty-two interviews with Northrop Frye (1991).

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Oral history interview with Chancellor H Northrop Frye conducted by Valerie Schatzker. Begins with his family background and early education continuing through to his perception of educational trends in the 1980s. Focusses on the period 1930-1980, and comments on the curricula, faculty and student activities in Victoria University. The Dept. of English at Victoria University and at University College, the Graduate Dept. of English, Emmanuel College and the federated colleges are also discussed, in addition to the Student Christian Movement, Merton College, Oxford University and fascism and education.

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Open

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Tape summary available in Reading Room.

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Listen to the oral history interview on MyMedia:
-Part 1
-Part 2
-Part 3

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B1986-0046

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