Northrop Frye: Scholar, critic and humanist
May 25 - June 28, 2002
he Northrop Frye Collection, Victoria University Library


Northop Frye Special Collection in the Victoria University Library | |Northrop Frye Centre Webpage| | Works with Annotations by Frye
Victoria University Library owns a comprehensive collection of Northrop Frye's books, manuscripts, and personal papers. In 1967, the Library acquired the manuscripts of the Well-Tempered Critic and Fools of Time: Studies in Shakespearean Tragedy. More materials came into the Collection following Northrop Frye's death in 1991. The Collection is described in a Finding Aid (on the web), a published Guide to the Northrop Frye Papers (1993) and in a list (also mounted on the web) of books from Northrop Frye's personal library with Frye's annotations. These items form the basis for the Collected Works editorial project at the Northrop Frye Centre in Victoria University. The Library continues to collect Frye's works in translation, new Frye criticism, new editions of Frye's texts, and associated audiovisual items. This exhibit highlights the variety and the depth of materials that are available to researchers in this very special collection.


Herman Northrop Frye was born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, on July 14, 1912, the son of Herman Edward Frye and Catherine Maud Howard. He 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 in the University of Toronto and graduated in 1933 in the Honour course in Philosophy and English, standing first in first class honours each year. He then followed the theological course at Emmanuel College and was ordained in the United Church of Canada in 1936. Realizing that his vocation lay in university teaching, he attended Merton College, Oxford, from 1936 to 1937 and from 1938- 1939. He graduated with first class honours in the English School and received the Oxford M.A. in 1940. In 1939 he joined the Department of English at Victoria College as a Lecturer, and became Assistant Professor in 1942, Associate Professor in 1946, Professor in 1947, Chairman of the Department of English (Victoria College) in 1952, and Principal of Victoria College in 1959. On January 1, 1967, he retired from the Principalship and became University Professor in the University of Toronto, continuing to teach as a Professor of English at Victoria. From 1978 until his death in January 199l he was Chancellor of Victoria University.

From 1950 to 1960 he wrote the annual critical and bibliographical survey of Canadian Poetry for Letters in Canada, University of Toronto Quarterly. He edited fifteen books, contributed essays and chapters to over sixty others and published over one hundred articles and reviews. His chief publications are: 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; A World in a Grain of Sand: Twenty-two Interviews with Northrop Frye, 1991.

A critical discussion of his work, with a bibliography appeared in Northrop Frye in Modern Criticism (Columbia University Press,1966); a full bibliography, including reviews and other discussions of his work in Northrop Frye: An Enumerative Bibliography (The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1974) and Northrop Frye: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Sources (University of Toronto Press, 1987), both by Robert Denham; Northrop Frye: A Biography (Random House) by John Ayre was published in 1989 and a critical study, Northrop Frye: Anatomy of His Criticism (University of Toronto Press) by A.C. Hamilton was published in 1990.
(Excerpted from the Victoria University Library, Northrop FryeSpecial Collections Web page. )

For more biographical information please see the Northrop Frye Special Collection web page.

Foyer Case 1: Collected Works, Criticism, Bibliographies and Honouray Medals

Northrop Frye. Northrop Frye's Writings on Education. Edited by Jean O'Grady and Goldwin French. Collected Works of Northrop Frye; vol. 7. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c2000.

Northrop Frye. Northrop Frye's Student Essays. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Collected Works of Northrop Frye; vol. 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1997

Northrop Frye. The Diaries of Northrop Frye, 1942-1955. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Collected Works of Northrop Frye; vol. 8. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001.

Northrop Frye. Northrop Frye's Late Notebooks, 1982-1990: Architecture of the spirited world. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Collected Works of Northrop Frye; vol.5. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

Northrop Frye. The Correspondence of Northrop Frye and Helen Kemp, 1932-1939. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Collected Works of Northrop Frye; vol. 1. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1996.

Order of Canada medal.

Northrop Frye. The Legacy of Northrop Frye. Edited by Alvin A. Lee and Robert D. Denham. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1994. (Based on a selection of papers presented at a conference held at Victoria University in the University of Toronto, October 29-31, 1992.)

Centre and Labyrinth: Essays in Honour of Northrop Frye. Edited by Eleanor Cook et al. Toronto: Published in Association with Victoria University by the University of Toronto Press, 1983.

Robert D. Denham. Northrop Frye: an annotated bibliography of primary and secondary sources. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, c1987.

Dolores A. Signori. Guide to the Northrop Frye Papers. Toronto: Victoria University Library, c1993.


Foyer Case 2: Italian Connections

Northrop Frye. Il Critico ben temperato. Translated by Amleto Lorenzini and Mario Manzari. Milano: Longanesi & C., 1974.

Northrop Frye. Anatomia della critica. Translated by Paola Rosa-Clot and Sandro Stratta. Piccola Biblioteca Einaudi; 115. Torino: Guilio Einaudi, c1969.

Northop Frye. L'Imaginazione coltivata. Translated by Amleto Lorenzini and Mario Manzari. I Marmi; vol. 82. Milano: Longanesi & C., c1974.

Ritratto di Northrop Frye. Edited by Agostino Lombardo. Studi e Ricerche, Universita di Roma "La Sapienza," Facolta di Lettere e Filosofia, Dipartimento di Anglistica; 27. Roma: Bulzoni, c1989. (Proceedings of the International Conference "Portrait of Northrop Frye" held at Villa Mirafiori, Rome, May 25 to 27, 1987.)

Giorgio Basani. Rolls Royce: and other poems. Introduction by Northrop Frye; translated by Francesca Valente in cooperation with Greg Gatenby and Irving Layton under the supervision of Giorgio Bassani and Portia Prebys. Toronto: Aya Press, 1982.

Italian Cultural Institute, Toronto, 1985-1991. Compiled and Edited by Francesca Valente and Flavia Trezzini. Toronto: The Institute, [c1991?]

Northrop Frye. L'Ostinata struttura: saggi su crittica e societa. Translated by Leonardo Terzo and Anna Paschetto with revisions by Amleto Lorenzini. Milano: Rizzoli Editore, c1975.

Northrop Frye. La Duplice visione: linguaggio e significato nella religione. Preface by Agostino Lombardo; translated by Francesca Valente Gorjup and Carla Pezzini Plevano. Venezia: Marsilio, c1993.

Northrop Frye. Tempo che opprime, tempo che redime: riflessioni sul teatro di Shakespeare. Intersezioni; 31. Translated by Maria Pia De Angelis and Valentina Poggi. Bologna: Il Mulino, c1986.

Northrop Frye. Mito metafora simbolo. Nuova biblioteca di cultura; 300. Roma; Editori Riuniti, c1989. (Translations of published and unpublished essays.)

Northrop Frye. T. S. Eliot. Universale Paperbacks Il Mulino; 236. Translated by Gino Scatasta. Bologna: Il Mulino, c1989.

Northrop Frye. Shakespeare: nove lezioni. Einaudi Paperbacks; 206. Translated by Andrea Carosso.Torino: Guilio Einaudi, c1990.

Foyer Case 3: Member of Victoria University, Critic & Lecturer

Northrop Frye. No Uncertain Sounds. Edited by Gordon Lawson McLennan. Toronto: Chartres Books, 1988. (Two addresses, one delivered on the occasion of Frye's installation as Principal of Victoria College, Oct. 21, 1959, and the other at a service celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of Victoria University October 5, 1986.)

Northrop Frye. By Liberal Things: Address by H. Northrop Frye on his installation as Principal of Victoria College, University of 'Toronto, October 21, 1959. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1959.

Vic Report. Winter 1978-1979.

D.G. Bastian. "A Fearful Symmetry: Northrop Frye on Victoria, the Bible and the Canadian way." Vic Report. Summer 1981: [2+]

Northrop Frye. Criticism as Education: the Leland B. Jacobs Lecture. [New York : School of Library of Service, Columbia University], c1980.

Northrop Frye. Something Rich and Strange : Shakespeare's approach to romance. Celebrity Lecture Series. [Stratford, Ont.]: Stratford Festival, 1982.

Northrop Frye. The Secular Scripture : a study of the structure of romance. Charles Eliot Norton Lectures; 1974-1975. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976.

Northrop Frye. Silence in the Sea. Pratt Lecture; 1968. St John's Newfoundland: Memorial University, c1969.

Northrop Frye. The Stage is All the World. Celebrity Lecture Series. [s.l.]: Stratford Festival, c1985.

Northrop Frye. Convocation address by Dr. H. Northrop Frye, York University, Spring Convocation, May 30, 1969. [S.l. : York University?, 1969?].

Northrop Frye. The Changing Pace in Canadian Education; an Address by H. Northrop Frye. [Montreal]: Association of Alumni, Sir George Williams University, 1963.

Northrop Frye. The Cultural Development of Canada: an address delivered to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and associated scholars at Hart House, University of Toronto, October 17, 1990. [Toronto, Ont.: Massey College, 1990]

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case A: Beginnings

"I Want to Read" My Very First Book. Nelson: London, n.d.
[Inscribed "Christmas 1915 Master Northrop Frye from Aunt Tess"]
A text which emphasizes word identification, this was a book used by Frye's mother to teach him to read.
(From John Ayre. Northrop Frye: a biography. Toronto: Random House, 1989).

John Bunyan. The Pilgrim's Progress: From this world to that which is to come. London: Dent, 1932, c1907.
"His absorption in books was immediate and so pervasive that in the normal troubled sleep stage of four-year-olds, he awoke one night with a searing image from an illustration in the Altemus edition of Pilgrim's Progress of Faithful being burned at the stake."
(John Ayre. Northrop Frye: a biography. Toronto: Random House, 1989)

Charles Kingsley. The Heroes: or, Greek fairy tales for my children. New York: Macmillan, 1888.

"Another book which left a strong impression on [Frye] was the common storybook of ancient myth, Charles Kingsley's The Heroes: or, Greek Fairy Tales for My Children. It's interesting to see how Kingsley divided the three basic 'stories' of Perseus, the Argonauts and Theseus into distinct narrative phases, indicating the rise-and-fall shape of tragedy. In his introduction, he even suggested that 'fairy tales' called mythoi by the Greeks were told by all nations 'when they are young,' thus implying the primitive focus of imaginative language." (John Ayre. Northrop Frye: a biography. Toronto: Random House, 1989)

A teacher's monthly report on Frye, [n.d.] from Aberdeen High School, Moncton, New Brunswick.

"Look What He Did"
Ink blotter. Printed advertisement on behalf of the Business College in Saint John, N.B. showing a photograph of Northrop Frye beside an Underwood typewriter after winning an Expert Typist Award, 1929.

Expert Typist Award. Underwood Typewriter Company, 1929.

Graduation Portrait. Victoria University, 1933.

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case B: Fearful Symmetry

Northrop Frye. Fearful Symmetry : A Study of William Blake. Princeton : Princeton University Press, 1947.

Annotated typescript pages of Fearful Symmetry.

Northrop Frye. Agghiacciante Simmetria : uno studio su William Blake. Translated by Carla Plevano Pezzini and Francesca Valente. Milan : Longanesi, 1976. Preface by Northrop Frye.

Annotated typescript page of Frye's Preface to Agghiacciante simmetria.

William Blake. The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Jura, France: Published by the Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London, 1960. Limited, numbered edition 17/240. Northrop Frye's copy .

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case C: Frye on Blake

William Blake. "Jerusalem" In The Complete Writings of William Blake : with all the variant readings. Edited by Geoffrey Keynes. London: Nonesuch Press, 1957. Northrop Frye's copy with annotations.

William Blake. Jerusalem, the Emanation of the Giant Albion. London: Published by the Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London, 1974. Limited, numbered edition 223/558. Northrop Frye's copy.

Annotated typescript notes on Blake's Jerusalem.

William Blake. Songs of Innocence and of Experience. Jura, France: Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London, 1955. Limited, numbered edition 173/240. Northrop Frye's copy.

Northrop Frye . "William Blake" In Reading the World : selected writings, 1935-1976. Edited by Robert D. Denham. New York: Peter Lang, 1990. Originally presented at the Open University, August 25, 1971, and tape-recorded for the BBC Open University program.

Annotated typescript page of "William Blake."

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case D: Frye on Blake's Biblical Illustrations

Butlin, Martin. The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake. New Haven : Published by the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 1981. Northrop Frye's copy.

Northrop Frye. "Blake's Biblical Illustrations" In The Eternal Act of Creation: Essays, 1979-1990. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Bloomington : Indiana University Press, 1993. An address presented at the Art Gallery of Ontario, February 4, 1983.

Annotated typescript of "Blake's Biblical Illustrations".

Northrop Frye. "Blake's Bible" In his Myth and Metaphor: Selected essays, 1974-1988. Edited by Robert D. Denham. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1990.

Annotated typescript page of "Blake's Bible".

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case E: Frye on Blake and Milton

Typescript page of "Notes for a Commentary on Milton".

William Blake. "Milton : Book the First" In Poetry and Prose of William Blake. Edited by Geoffrey Keynes. London : Nonesuch Press, 1948. Northrop Frye's copy with annotations.

William Blake. Milton: a poem. Jura, France: Published by the Trianon Press for the William Blake Trust, London, 1967. Limited, numbered edition 78/380. Northrop Frye's copy.

Annotated typescript entitled "Writer as prophet: Blake"

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case F: Anatomy of Anatomy

The centre of Anatomy of Criticism was the mandala, Frye's conception of how literature fitted together with the 'myths' of romance, irony, tragedy and comedy linked in a unified 'rotary' vision…In the notebooks and diaries Frye kept, leading up to the Anatomy, it always represented a key component of the book.
[from John Ayre, "Frye's Geometry of Thought: Building the Great Wheel." University of Toronto Quarterly 70: 4 (Fall 2001): 825-838.

Phases of the Four Mythoi. Unpublished mandala for Anatomy of Criticism

Robert Denham's typescripts of mandalas in Frye's 1948 notebook.

Frye's 1948 notebook, containing notes for Anatomy of Criticism and diagrams.

Frye's 1950 diary.

Robert Denham's typescript of mandala in Frye's 1950 diary.

The Holy Bible. New York: Nelson, 1901.
Frye's annotated copy

The Oxford Annotated Bible. The Holy Bible. New York: Oxford UP, 1962.
Frye's annotated copy

Kathleen Coburn Reading Room Case G: Anatomy Then and Now

Northrop Frye. Anatomy of Criticism: four essays. Princeton (New Jersey): Princeton UP, 1957.

Northrop Frye. Anatomy of Criticism: four essays. With a new foreword by Harold Bloom. Princeton University Press, 2000.
Fifteenth printing of Anatomy

Translations of Anatomy of Criticism: four essays.

Analyse der Literaturkritik. Translated by Edgar Lohner and Henning Clewing. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1964.

Anatomie de la critique. Translated by Guy Durand. Paris: Gallimard, 1969.

Anatomia de la critica: cuatro ensayos. Caracas: Monte Avilas Editores, 1977.

Anatomija Kritike: cetiri eseja. Translated by Giga Gracan. Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 2000.

Hihyo no Kaibo. Tokyo: Hosei University Press, 1980.

A Kritika Anatomiaja: negy essze. Translated by Szili Jozsef. Budapest: Helikon Kiado, 1998.