by George J. Dance

Brown ek peggy

E.K. & Peggy Brown with their son, Deaver. Courtesy Trent University.

E.K. Brown
Born Edward Killoran Brown
August 15, 1905
Toronto, Ontario
Died February 24, 1953 (aged 47)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation professor
Language English
Nationality Canada Canadian
Citizenship British subject
Alma mater U of Toronto, Sorbonne
Notable work(s) On Canadian Poetry (1943)
Notable award(s) Governor General's Award, Lorne Pierce Medal

Edward Killoran Brown (August 15, 1905 - April 24, 1951), who wrote as E.K. Brown, was a Canadian academic and literary critic. He "influenced Canadian literature primarily through his award-winning book On Canadian Poetry (1943),"[1] which "established the standards of excellence and many of the subsequent directions of Canadian criticism." Northrop Frye called him "the first critic to bring Canadian literature into its proper context".[2]


E.K. Brown was born in Toronto,[3] the son of Winifred Killoran and Edward David Brown, a businessman.[1] He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1926, winning the Governor-General's Medal for Modern Languages and a scholarship to the Sorbonne.[4]

Brown taught at the University of Toronto from 1929 through 1941, except for two years chairing the University of Manitoba's English Department.[4] He was an associate editor of the Canadian Forum from 1930 to 1933, and published over 50 articles in that journal.[2]

Between 1932 and 1941 Brown was an editor of the University of Toronto Quarterly.[2] In 1936 he began the column "Letters in Canada", an annual survey in the Quarterly of the year's crop of Canadian poetry. He left the University of Toronto in 1941 to take a position at Cornell University,[4] but he continued to write "Letters in Canada" each year until 1950,[3] at which time the column was taken over by Northrop Frye. Brown later used two of his "Letters in Canada" essays - "The Contemporary Situation in Canadian Literature" (1938) and "The Development of Canadian Poetry 1880-1940" (1941) - in his 1943 book, On Canadian Poetry.[2]

In 1941 Brown edited a special all-Canadian issue of prestigious Chicago magazine Poetry.[4]

From 1941 to 1944 Brown chaired Cornell University's English Department, except for six months on staff as a speechwriter to Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.[4]

In 1943 Brown and Duncan Campbell Scott edited Archibald Lampman's posthumous volume, At the Long Sault and Other Poems. Brown would also edit Scott's posthumous Selected Poems in 1951.

In 1945 Brown moved to the University of Chicago to chair its English Department.[4] From 1947 to 1951 he wrote a column, "Causeries," for the Winnipeg Free Press in which he published almost 50 essays on literary topics.[5] He died in 1951 of cancer.[4]


On Canadian PoetryEdit

Brown is best remembered for his 1943 book, On Canadian Poetry. Of that book, the Canadian Encyclopedia says that "Brown was the first modern Canadian critic to establish a context for the study of 19th- and 20th-century Canadian poetry by identifying Canada's major poets (Archibald Lampman, D.C. Scott and E.J. Pratt), tracing their influences and closely defining the strengths of their verse."[3]

Prior to the appearance of On Canadian Poetry, Sir Charles G.D. Roberts was widely considered Canada's top poet (and certainly its top Confederation Poet), followed by his cousin, Bliss Carman. Not long before the volume came out, Brown had written to Duncan Campbell Scott that "our literary history must be rewritten and some old landmarks removed." In the book he removed several forthwith. Roberts received a mere four pages, and was praised mainly as a "breaker of trails". Carman received even less space; Brown saluted "the beauty of his music," but added that his poetry "as a whole is cloying." Of the other Confederation Poets, William Wilfred Campbell was cursorily dismissed as a "minor figure," while F.G. Scott and Pauline Johnson were not mentioned at all. In contrast, Brown devoted an entire chapter each to Lampman and D.C. Scott, erecting his own 'landmarks.'[6]

Brown's revisionist ranking of the Confederation Poets – Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott on top, Roberts and Carman underneath, and Wilfred Campbell, Johnson, and F.G. Scott not even counted – "would become widely accepted and go unchallenged for several decades."[6]


Brown received a Governor General's Award for non-fiction in 1943 for On Canadian Poetry.[2]

The Royal Society of Canada awarded E.K. Brown its Lorne Pierce Medal posthumously.[2]





  • Louis Cazamian, Carlyle. New York: Macmillan, 1932.
  • Honore Balzac (as "Pere Goriot"), Pere Goriot and Eugenie Grandet. New York: Modern Library, 1946.


  • Matthew Arnold, Representative Essays. Toronto: Macmillan, 1936.
  • Victorian Poetry.. Toronto: Nelson, 1942.
  • Archibald Lampman, At the Long Sault and Other New Poems, (edited by Duncan Campbell Scott and E.K. Brown). Toronto: Ryerson, 1943.
  • Matthew Arnold, Four Essays on Life and Letters. Harlan Davidson, 1947. ISBN 9780882950068
  • Charles Dickens, David Copperfield. 1950.
  • Duncan Campbell Scott, Selected Poems. Toronto: Ryerson, 1951.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy Open Library.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 W.H. New, Encyclopedia of Literature in Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002), 161-162.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 David Jackel, "E.K. Brown Biography," Encyclopedia of Literature,, Web, May 13, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Neil Besner, "Brown, Edward Killoran," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 288.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Douglas Bush, E.K. Brown and the Evolution of Canadian Poetry" Seewanee Review, 87:1 (Winter 1979), 186, Web, May 13, 2011.
  5. "Brown, E.K." Encyclopedia of the Essay,, Web, May 14, 2011.
  6. 6.0 6.1 John Coldwell Adams, "The Whirligig of Time," Confederation Voices, Canadian Poetry,, Web, Mar. 28, 2011.
  7. Search Results: E.K. Brown, Open Library, Web, May 13, 2011.

External linksEdit

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. (view article). (view authors).
This page uses content from Wikinfo . The original article was at Wikinfo:E.K. Brown.
The list of authors can be seen in the (view authors). page history. The text of this Wikinfo article is available under the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.
This is a signed article by User:George Dance. It may be edited for spelling errors or typos, but not for substantive content except by its author. If you have created a user name and verified your identity, provided you have set forth your credentials on your user page, you can add comments to the bottom of this article as peer review.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.