Edwin John Pratt

Fonds number:
Title: Edwin John Pratt
Dates of Material:
4.35 m of textual records
192 photographs: b&w
37 photographs: col.
28 photographs: 35 mm b&w negatives
11 photographs: 4x5 inch b&w negatives
17 photographs: 35 mm col. negatives
8 photographs: 5.5 x 5.5 cm b&w negatives
6 photographs: col. slides
3 pencil drawings
23 artifacts
1 painting
21 reels of microfilm
3 sheets of microfiche
38 audio cassettes
24 sound tape reels
38 phonodiscs
Introduction to the Collection

The collection contains manuscripts and published works by E.J. Pratt, as well as notebooks, drafts of poems, lecture notes, letters, critical works and theses, photographs and memorabilia. Also contains material relating to Viola Leone Whitney, who married Pratt in 1913. Files relating to her include correspondence, literary material and photographs. She was writer and editor for the magazine World Friends.

Canadian poet and Professor of English at Victoria University. Pratt was a founder and the first editor (1936–1943) of Canadian Poetry Magazine, on the Editorial Board, Saturday Night, member of the Canadian Authors’ Association and the Arts and Letters Club. He won the Governor-General’s medal, for The Fable of the Goats and Other Poems (1937), for Brébeuf and His Brethren (1940), for Towards the Last Spike (1952), the Lorne Pierce Gold Medal, for distinguished services to Canadian literature, the Canada Council medal for distinction in literature (1961) and many more.

Accessing the Collection

There are two ways to access parts of the collection:

Guide to the E.J. Pratt Papers:
A detailed finding aid to the papers in the collection. The finding aid has two series: material relating to E.J. Pratt and material relating to Viola Leone Whitney Pratt. For material relating to Claire Pratt, see the Claire Pratt Fonds.

University of Toronto Catalogue:
For catalogued items in the E.J. Pratt and general collections at Victoria University Library.

Biographical sketch

Edwin John Dove Pratt (1882–1964) was an academic and a poet. He was born in Western Bay, Newfoundland, the son of Reverend John Pratt and Fanny Pitts Knight. He married Viola Leone Whitney in 1913 and they had a daughter, Mildred Claire, born in 1921. He died in Toronto, Ontario.

Pratt was educated at St. John’s Methodist College (1888–1901) with a three-year interruption. He received a B.A. in 1911 at Victoria College, University of Toronto, an M.A. at the University of Toronto, and a B.D. at Victoria University in 1913. He was ordained as a minister in 1913. He received a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1917.

Pratt was an Assistant Minister at various churches in Streetsville, Ontario (1913–20). He was Demonstrator-Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Toronto (1913–20), joined the faculty of the Department of English at Victoria College in 1920, and was promoted to Professor (1930), Senior Professor (1938), and Professor Emeritus (1953). He was appointed Visiting Professor, summer sessions, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Queen’s University in Kingston, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. He served as Literary Adviser to the Editorial Board of Acta Victoriana and was the founder and first editor (1936–43) of The Canadian Poetry Magazine.

Pratt was a member of the Royal Society of Canada, the Editorial Board of Saturday Night, the Canadian Authors’ Association, the Empire Club of Canada and the Arts and Letters Club. He received several awards, including a Governor General’s Award in 1937, 1940 and 1952, the Canada Council Award in 1957, the Civic Award of Merit from the City of Toronto in 1959, and the Canada Council Medal for distinction in literature in 1961. In 1946 he was made a CMG by King George VI.

Pratt’s publications include: Rachel: A Sea Story of Newfoundland in Verse (1917), Newfoundland Verse (1923), The Witches’ Brew (1926), Titans (1926), The Iron Door: An Ode (1927), The Roosevelt and the Antinoe (1930), Many Moods (1932), The Titanic (1935), The Fable of the Goats and Other Poems (1937), Brebeuf and his Brethren (1940), Dunkirk (1941), Still Life and Other Verse (1943), They are Returning (1945), Behind the Log (1947), Ten Selected Poems (1947), Towards the Last Spike (1952), and Here the Tide Flows (1962).

Custodial history

The custodial history of E.J. Pratt’s records acquired from the Provincial Archives of British Columbia, from Margaret (Peggy) Brown, from Concordia University, and from other sources is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of E.J. Pratt’s records pertaining to his activities as a teacher, minister and poet. It also consists of Viola Pratt’s records pertaining to her personal life. The fonds contains two series.

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 52 boxes.

Immediate source of acquisition

E.J. Pratt material acquired from E.J. Pratt in 1946–47; from Viola Pratt in 1964, 1967–68, 1978, 1980–82; from Claire Pratt in 1979; from the Provincial Archives of British Columbia in 1979; from Margaret (Peggy) Brown in 1980; from Concordia University in 1980; from an unknown source in 1988; and from various donors at unknown dates.

Material relating to Viola Whitney Pratt acquired from Viola Whitney Pratt in 1985 and 1986.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use and reproduction

Individual files are governed by terms of use and reproduction; see series level description of series 1 in the available finding aid; this description can also be found on the Victoria University website. Individual audio cassettes cannot be published without the permission of the speakers and of Ottawa University. See file list Series 1.

Finding aids

File list available at series level

Related material

University of Calgary Library, Special Collections: Letter to Miss Urquhart (reference: ULM 199-26). Biographical material relating to E.J. Pratt (correspondence, photocopied; article, reprinted; clippings) is held at Victoria University Archives.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Provenance access point:
Pratt, E.J. (Edwin John), 1882–1964
Pratt, Viola Whitney

Related special collections at Victoria University Library

Mildred Claire Pratt fonds contains documents of her parents, Edwin John Pratt and Viola Leone Whitney, which she inherited after their deaths.

Related resources
  • Legend:
  • Pratt logo Available at E.J. Pratt Library
  • Emmanuel logo Available at Emmanuel Library
  • UofT logo UofT members only

“A Poet and a Legend”
An article on E.J. Pratt authored by Northrop Frye and published in Vic Report in 1979.

Remembering Viola Pratt
An eulogy written by Lila Laakso, Viola Pratt’s friend and a former librarian at E.J. Pratt Library.

“The Spirit of Victoria Past, Present, and Future: Writer Viola Pratt and Actress Jane Mallett Recall How Victoria Gave Them Their Start”
An article on Viola Pratt’s years as an undergraduate student at Victoria University. It was published in the Vic Report in 1984.

The Complete Poems and Letters of E.J. Pratt: A Hypertext Edition from Trent University

E.J. Pratt from the Canadian Poetry Online

E.J. Pratt from the Literature Resource Center UofT logo
Contains biographies, literary criticism, overviews and bibliographies of E.J. Pratt and his work.

The Poetry of E.J. Pratt
An online exhibit featuring Victoria University Library’s E.J. Pratt Archives. Curator Linda White, of Archeion (Ontario’s Archival Information Network), has created a series of archival exhibits drawn from Ontario archival collections on “Canadian Identity through Artistic Expression.”

Poet E.J. Pratt on Turning 75 from CBC Archives.

Staff Login (library)

Copyright © 2016 Victoria University Library. All Rights Reserved. Also find us on: Facebook logo