A Tribute to Francess Halpenny (1919-2017)

The BSC-SbC honours the life and contributions of Francess Halpenny, a formative figure in the world of publishing and librarianship in Canada whose career spanned over sixty years.

Francess earned at M.A. in English Language and Literature at UniversityAdd a translation in FrançaisCollege, University of Toronto. She joined the University of Toronto Press (UTP) in 1941, and her work continued there for several decades, interrupted first by her service as a RCAF meteorological observer in Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island during the Second World War. In 1957, she became Editor for the Press, and in 1965 Managing Editor. Francess moved from UTP in 1969 to become general editor of the multi-volume bilingual Dictionary of Canadian Biography. However, she was to return to the Press part-time as Associate Director (Academic) from 1979-1984.

In 1972, Francess was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Library Science at the University of Toronto and professor of library sciences. At the Faculty, she taught a course in contemporary publishing for eighteen years. She wrote numerous articles on editing, publication, and biography in scholarly journals and collections. For example, Halpenny served as editor for Editing Twentieth Century Texts: Papers Given at the Editorial Conference, University of Toronto, November 1969 (UTP, c. 1972) and authored Education for Bibliography and Practice of Bibliography (Committee on Bibliographical Services for Canada, National Library of Canada, 1979). She reflected at length on her career and on the history of UTP in the article “100 Books for 100 Years,” published in the Papers of the Bibliographical Society in 2001. In March 2017, Francess published her memoirs, A World of Words. Whenever describing her work as an editor, Francess was often careful to highlight the technical side of printing and the important work of typesetters, printers, and copy editors, while also explaining the academic editor’s craft of forming a list.

Francess received numerous prizes and honors for her outstanding service to Canadian letters and scholarship. She was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979 and Companion in 1984.  In 1983, she received the Molson Prize, awarded by the Canada Council for distinguished contribution to Canada’s cultural and intellectual heritage. The Royal Society of Canada made her a Fellow in 1977 and eleven Canadian universities have awarded her honorary degrees.

We are humbled by Francess’s accomplishments over her remarkable career. Let us not forget her tireless commitment to Canadian scholarship, libraries, and intellectual life.

To learn more of her life, see: http://humphreymiles.com/tribute/details/5174/Francess-Halpenny/obituary.html

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