Messenger, Ann

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Messenger, Ann

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31 May 1933 - 1 February 1996


Ann Carey Messenger was a Professor in the Department of English at Simon Fraser University. She was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on May 31, 1933 to Raymond and Lillian Parshall. Between 1951 and 1955, Messenger attended Oberlin College in Ohio. Awarded a Snell Scholarship for 1952 to 1955, she completed a B.A. in English Literature in 1955. In September of 1955, Messenger began studies at Oxford University in England; she attended Oxford under a Fulbright Scholarship in 1955/56 and a Snell Scholarship in 1956/57. After completing a second B.A. at Oxford, Messenger returned to the United States in 1957, where she procured a job as a secretary at the Princeton University Library Rare Books Department. The following year, in 1958, she began studies at Cornell University. She remained at Cornell for two years, teaching freshman composition and earning credits for an Hon. M.A. at Oxford, which she completed in 1961.

During her first year at Cornell she met William (Bill) Messenger, a fellow graduate English student, and the two were married in Pittsburgh in 1960. After their marriage, they stayed in Pennsylvania, teaching at Bucknell University in Lewisburg for a year, before moving to California. In California, Ann taught, and Bill took post-graduate courses and taught, at the University of California, Berkeley. In September 1963, she began teaching at San Francisco State College. While teaching, she continued working towards her Ph.D., which she was awarded through Cornell University in 1964; Bill completed his PhD. from Berkeley in 1968.

In August 1966 the Messengers moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to teach at the University of British Columbia (UBC). They immediately fell in love with the city and purchased a home in Point Grey. In September 1968, Messenger secured a job as an Assistant Professor in the English Department at the recently established Simon Fraser University, attaining the rank of Professor in 1973. Her area of expertise as a professor was Restoration and 18th Century literature. In the early 1970s she began to cultivate an interest in the forgotten female writers of the period, and her research developed in this direction. Bill became an Assistant Professor at UBC in 1969, and an Associate Professor in 1982.

In 1988, Messenger was diagnosed with the first of multiple cancers. As a result of her illness, she was unable to teach, and in 1990 she went on long-term disability.

In spite of her illness, her passion for bringing to light female writers of the Restoration and 18th Century encouraged Messenger to continue to write and edit books, papers, and journal articles on the subject, often hiring people to do some of the research that she was unable to carry out herself. These works included the books "His and Hers: Essays in Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature" (author, published 1986); "Gender at Work: Four Women Writers of the Eighteenth Century" (contributor and editor, published 1990); a new edition of Ellis Cornelia Knight's "Dinarbas"(editor, published 1993); "Woman and Poet in the Eighteenth Century: The Life of Mary Whateley Darwall (1738-1825)" (author, published 1999); "Pastoral Tradition and the Female Talent: Studies in Augustan Poetry" (author, published 1999); and "The Works of Mary Leapor" (co-editor, published 2004).

In 1993, Messenger set up the Aphra Behn Endowment Fund, named after the female poet. This fund was renamed the Ann Messenger Graduate Endowment Fund in 1996.

Despite Messenger's determination to fight her illness, the cancer continued to reoccur, and she passed away on February 1, 1996. Bill Messenger, who had taken early retirement in 1988 to care for Ann, passed away on June 15, 2003 due to complications from pneumonia and Alzheimer's Disease.


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