Fonds MG L 1 - Desmond Pacey

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Desmond Pacey

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  • Textual record
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  • 1915-1976, predominant 1934-1974 (Creation)
    Pacey, W.C. Desmond

Physical description

4.3 m of textual records
17 photographs; predominately b&w

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Biographical history

William Cyril Desmond Pacey was born 1 May 1917 in Dundedin, New Zealand. His father William Pacey was killed in the First World War, and Desmond and his mother Mary subsequently emigrated to England where young Pacey received his early education. In 1931 they emigrated to Canada. Within a few years Mary Pacey had remarried, and the family settled on a farm in Glanford Station, Ontario. Desmond Pacey enrolled at Victoria College, University of Toronto, receiving a first class honours bachelor of arts degree in English and philosophy in 1938. The following year he married Mary E. Carson of Ottawa, and they had seven children. He was awarded a Massey Travelling Fellowship to complete his doctorate degree at Cambridge University and graduated from that institution in 1941.

Pacey began his university teaching career in 1940 at Brandon College, University of Manitoba, where he taught English. In 1944 he joined the faculty of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, New Brunswick. He served as head of the English Department until 1969 and taught courses until his death. As well, he served as secretary of the faculty (1952-1969) and as vice-president academic (1970-1973), and he worked to expand the graduate studies programme, particularly while dean of graduate studies. A popular speaker at both scholarly and informal conferences, Pacey was instrumental in promoting literary studies at UNB and throughout Canada. He was chair of the editorial board of the literary publication The Fiddlehead for several years. He was also actively involved with a number of committees and organizations, serving as first chair of the local Humanities Association, as chair of the Founders' Day Committee, and as president of the Faculty Club.

While at UNB he established himself as one of Canada's leading literary critics and historians. He published a number of scholarly works including Frederick Philip Grove (1945), Creative Writing in Canada: A Short History of English-Canadian Literature (1952, 1961, 1966), and Ten Canadian Poets: A Group of Biographical and Critical Essays (1958, 1966). Later scholarly publications include Ethel Wilson (1968) and Essays in Canadian Criticism (1969). He also edited several anthologies including The Selected Poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts (1974) as well as the earlier version and co-edited the standard work Literary History of Canada (1965).

Pacey also wrote articles for publication in scholarly journals and encyclopaedias as well as book, film, and play reviews. In addition to his academic writing, he published three children's book and a collection of short stories. Pacey's achievements were recognized during his lifetime. In 1955 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1972 he was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal of the Royal Society of Canada. As well, he received honourary degrees from both Mount Allison University and UNB in 1973. Pacey died in 1975.

W. C. Desmond Pacey

Custodial history

The material in this fonds was deposited between 1955 and 1975 primarily by W.C. Desmond Pacey. The fonds includes letters from Pacey to UNB library and archives staff referring to individual donations to the fonds and stating his interest in preserving his material at UNB Archives. A few miscellaneous items were added to the fonds after Pacey's death.

Scope and content

This fonds documents the academic and literary career of W. C. Desmond Pacey as well as his work as a university administrator. It also documents aspects of his personal life. The fonds contains personal, family, and general correspondence; literary manuscripts and typescripts; copies of journal articles; newspaper clippings; lecture notes; programmes; photographs; reports and scrapbooks. It also includes financial records, genealogical and biographical information, speeches, and notes. It includes photocopies of correspondence with literary figures, including Elizabeth Brewster, Irving Layton, Dorothy Livesay, and Miriam Waddington and between Lorne Pierce and Frederick Philip Grove.

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  • English

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Restrictions on access

Photocopies of material from National Archives located in series 2 carry the same restrictions as imposed by that repository -- the files are closed until 2007. Some UNB department files located in series 4 which contain personal information have been partially restricted to protect individual privacy. Generally single items in these files will be removed to allow public access. Files pertaining to the English Department may be viewed only with permission of the department head. Generally, these files have restricted access for thirty years.

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General note

Information copied from Archives Canada Database, CAIN No. 158482, on 9 October 2012.

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