Helen Kemp Frye

Fonds number:
Title: Helen Kemp Frye
Dates of Material:
1858–1984, predominant 1923–1984
1.14 m of textual records
38 photographs: b&w
2 photographs: col.
3 photographs: 35 mm b&w negatives
16 photographs: 3x4.5 inch b&w negatives
1 photograph: 4x5 inch b&w negative
12 sketches (4 pencil and 8 watercolour)
6 sketchbooks
250 postcards
Biographical sketch

Helen Kemp Frye (1910–1986) was an educator, editor and artist. She was born in Toronto, Ontario, the daughter of Stanley and Gertrude Kemp. In 1937 she married Northrop Frye. She died in Australia while accompanying her husband on a lecture tour.

Helen Kemp Frye was educated at Riverdale Collegiate, Toronto and studied piano and musical theory at the Hambourg Conservatory of Music, Toronto. In 1929 she enrolled in the Pass Course at Victoria College, Toronto, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933. Upon graduating she was offered a position in the education department at the Art Gallery of Toronto by Arthur Lismer, who was a personal friend of her father, a commercial artist. She spent one year at the National Gallery in Ottawa and a year studying at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, England. Upon her return to Toronto she continued to work at the Gallery, conducting study groups, sending out loan exhibitions, and organizing lectures and concerts. In the late Thirties she worked as a contributing editor and then as art editor for Canadian Forum. From 1943 until 1946 the Toronto Star Weekly employed her as a reprint editor. She devoted much of her spare time to committee work at Victoria College and later, when Northrop Frye became College Principal, took charge of various women’s organizations at the College.

Custodial history

The custodial history is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Helen Kemp Frye’s records pertaining to her activities as an educator, editor and artist, and to her personal life.

The fonds is arranged in the following series:

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 15 boxes.

Immediate source of acquisition

Files from the Helen Kemp Frye Estate were acquired by Victoria University from members of the Frye family in 1991, 1992 and 1993.

Language of material


Access restrictions

No restrictions on access.

Finding aids

Detailed finding aid available: file level control. See Scope and Content.


No further accruals are expected.

General notes

A description of the Helen Kemp Frye fonds can also be found in the Guide to the Northrop Frye Papers / Victoria University Library—Toronto : Victoria University Library, 1993. However, this finding aid has been updated as a result of further research and additional accruals.

Access points

Frye, Helen Kemp, 1910–1986