In memoriam

In memoriam McGill University

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McGill Reporter
September 27, 2001 - Volume 34 Number 02
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In memoriam

Joyce Hemlow: Burney's booster

Greenshields Professor Emerita of English Joyce Hemlow died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on September 3, at the age of 95.

Joyce Hemlow began teaching at age 15 in a small one-room school in Necum Teuch. She graduated from Sydney Academy and then taught in rural schools for a number, of years. She attended Queen's University, earning her BA and going on to the Harvard Graduate School.

Under the tutelage of the noted 18th-century scholar George Sherburn she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the novels of the British author Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840). This began her lifelong devotion to the study of Fanny Burney.

Coming to McGill in 1948, she devoted the next decade to tracking down the voluminous manuscript journals and letters of Burney and other members of her family, and writing a definitive life of Burney based on these materials. Her biography, The History of Fanny Burney, was published by the Clarendon Press of Oxford University in 1958. Hailed as a masterpiece, it received the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in Britain.

In 1960 Hemlow founded the McGill Burney Papers Project, dedicated to the publication of complete, definitive scholarly editions of Burney's journals and letters. She was twice awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship to support her work. Aided by a team of scholars at McGill and elsewhere, she published the 12-volume edition of The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame d'Arblay) 1789-1840 (Clarendon Press, 1972-84). This edition was acclaimed by notable figures such as C.P. Snow and Malcolm Muggeridge. Upon its completion Hemlow retired to her family estate in Liscomb, spending the winters in Halifax and conducting genealogical research on her Nova Scotian forebears.

In retirement Hemlow continued her lively interest in Burney matters. She stayed in touch with the Burney Project at McGill, where I succeeded her as director. In 1995 she became a founding patron of the new international Burney Society, devoted to the life and writings of Fanny Burney. This society was instrumental in convincing the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Wesley Carr, to consent to the instalment of a memorial to Burney in the Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey.

This installation, where I will serve as a principal speaker, will take place in the Abbey on June 13, 2002, the 250th anniversary of Burney's birth. Fortunately, Hemlow lived long enough to know of this long-overdue tribute to a novelist, diarist and playwright whose importance to English literature is finally receiving proper acknowledgement. Hemlow has long been renowned as the architect of modern Burney studies, and it is her seminal work which has led to this development.

A memorial service is planned for Professor Hemlow in the McGill University Chapel. Colleagues will remember not only a great scholar, teacher and McGillian, but also a humorous, warm and vibrant human being whose enthusiasms included the Montreal Canadiens and the music of Richard Wagner. Her legacy at McGill will live on in the Burney Project, for which the University has designated a Canada Research Chair to attract its next director. McGill will thus continue to be, as it has been since Professor Hemlow's days, the world centre of Burney studies.


Professor of English
Director of the Burney Project

Benjamin Higgins: A new kind of economist

Photo PHOTO: Dalas studio

Professor Benjamin Higgins, at one time McGill's Bronfman Professor of Economics, passed away on May 31, in Australia. Higgins was widely respected for his expertise on urban and regional development.

The challenge of fostering economic development in developing countries was an area of particular interest to Higgins -- he became one of the first economists to specialize in this area. One of Higgins's books, Economic Development: Problems, Principles and Policies, published in 1959, quickly became a standard in his field and was used by other scholars and economists throughout the world.

The author of about 30 books, Higgins also wrote Employment Without Inflation, Indonesia's Economic Stabilization and Development and All the Difference: A Development Economist's Quest.

He served as an economics advisor to the governments of Canada, Australia, the United States, Libya, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Greece, Brazil and several other countries. UNESCO and the World Bank also made use of his expertise. From 1978 to 1985, he chaired the advisory committee for the United Nations Centre for Regional Development.

Higgins, a member of the Royal Society of Canada, also served on the faculty of such universities as MIT, Université de Montréal, the University of Ottawa, the University of Texas and the University of Melbourne.

While living in Montreal, Higgins was a much sought-after consultant to various levels of government. He chaired a special task force that chose the site of Montreal's international airport and helped design regional development plans for Quebec, Eastern Ontario and Moncton.

There will be a memorial service for Professor Higgins on Wednesday, October 3, at the McGill University Chapel in the Birks Building (3520 University) at noon. It will be followed by a light luncheon in the Gold Room of the Faculty Club. The family of Professor Higgins and the Department of Economics are sponsors of both events.

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