Fonds F02258 - Helen Humphreys fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Helen Humphreys fonds

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Reference code

CA ON00239 F02258

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Dates of creation area


  • 1974-2005 (Creation)
    Humphreys, Helen

Physical description area

Physical description

4.44 m of textual records, 1 videocasette : VHS, 1 audio cassette

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Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Helen Humphreys was born in London, England in 1961, and immigrated to Toronto, Ontario, Canada with her family as a young child. She is an award-winning writer who has distinguished herself as both a poet and a novelist. She currently resides in Kingston, Ontario.

Humphreys four poetry collections, all published by Brick Press, include Gods and Other Mortals (1986), Nuns Looking Anxious, Listening to Radio (1990), The Perils of Geography (1995) and Anthem (2000). Anthem was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award for best book of poetry and was the winner of the 2000 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry.

Prior to publishing her first literary novel, Helen Humphreys wrote two young adult fiction books for the Women’s Press, Things Just Aren’t The Same (1987) and S.P. likes A.D. (1989) under the pseudonym of Catherine Brett. Humphreys’ first foray into adult fiction was with the novella Ethel on Fire, published by Black Moss Press in 1991. This was followed by the novel Leaving Earth (1997), which was a New York Times Notable Book and won the City of Toronto Book Award. Her next novel, Afterimage, earned a second New York Times Notable Book mention, was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2001. Both books have been published internationally and optioned for film. The Lost Garden (2002) was published to great acclaim and was a 2003 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Canada Reads selection. In 2004 her novel, Wild Dogs, was published and named one of Now Magazine’s Top Ten Fiction books for the year. It was produced in 2008 by CanStage in Toronto in 2008. In 2007, Humphreys published The Frozen Thames, a book of creative non-fiction and in 2008 she published Coventry. Both books were national best sellers. Her poetry, short stories and articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including The Malahat Review, Quarry, Event, Poetry Canada Review, The Fiddlehead Review, Grain, Arc and The New Quarterly.

Helen Humphreys has taught creative writing across Canada at numerous schools and institutions including the Maritime Writer’s Workshop, the University of Toronto, George Brown College, and the Banff Centre for the Arts. She has also worked as a car wash and gas station attendant, factory worker, and alarm station monitor.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of correspondence, manuscripts (both published and unpublished), poems, plays, notebooks, and daybooks. The material reflects Humphrey's literary life from her teenage years up until 2010, and shows the process of writing books of both poetry and prose from beginning to end. The fonds is comprised of the following series: Correspondence; Daybooks; Promotional material; Teaching Material and Writings.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Helen Humphreys, December 2005 and July 2010.


Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

F5 B10

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Copyright restrictions apply.

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  • Shelf: 5030.2
  • Shelf: F5 B10
  • Shelf: 2207
  • Shelf: MI 96