Northrop Frye’s long-time secretary bequeaths his collected works to Brescia

December 10, 2013
News Release

London, ON –When students at Brescia University College were shown the annotated books of Northrop Frye that were recently given to the University, they were like the proverbial kids in a candy shop. Associate Professor of English, Dr. Monika Lee, explains: “Many of our students are true bibliophiles and, when they saw books with inscriptions penned by the literary legend Northrop Frye, they felt that he had come to life before their very eyes. I felt the same way. We are delighted that Jane Widdicombe, Frye’s secretary for 23 years, chose Brescia to be the recipient of the recently-released 30-volume collection of his works as well as an assortment of other books by or about Frye that bear inscriptions.”

The English Department at Brescia was a logical recipient of this gift. Monika Lee was one of Frye’s students at the University of Toronto, and her father, Alvin A. Lee, was Frye’s editor through the University of Toronto Press. But Monika had never met Jane Widdicombe and felt blessed that Jane sought Brescia out to receive this valuable collection. Jane had been like a daughter to Northrop Frye and his wife, Helen, who had no children of their own. As a consequence she wanted to make sure that these books found a meaningful home, where the books would be both useful and appreciated. The Beryl Ivey Library mainly serves students from Brescia but its doors are always open to and it is widely frequented by students from Huron University College, King’s University College, and Western University.

The location is also a fitting one for these books as the Frye critical framework for understanding literature was adopted long ago by Western University’s English Department and is still influential at Western and at Brescia.  Dr. Lee herself is teaching Frye on her Canadian literature at Brescia currently. She says, “These tangible, physical objects – the embodiment of so much learning and insight – will influence students, both national and international, who come to study at Western University and its affiliated university colleges. We are enriched by this gift and are very grateful to Jane Widdicombe for choosing us as a benefactor of the Collected Works of Northrop Frye.”

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For more information please contact Colleen Aguilar, Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer, at 519.432.8353, ext. 28280 or You may also contact Sheila Blagrave, Director of Communications, Marketing, & External Relations, at 519.432.8353 ext. 28293.

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,275 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room at