Francis E. L. (Ethelbert Louis) Priestley

Francis E. L. (Ethelbert Louis) Priestley
(March 12, 1905 - May 11, 1988)

The F.E.L. Priestley Lecture Series provides an opportunity for distinguished scholars and speakers to advance the humanist tradition and intellectual values which Professor Priestley cherished and promoted in his works and in the classroom.  These lectures, addressing the educated intellectually active layman, represent work of major significance by the invited lecturer and will be posted online by The University of Lethbridge.

Editor: A.F. Cassis

F.E.L. Priestly retired in 1972 from his position at University College in the University of Toronto after some fifty years of teaching.  Professor Priestley’s illustrious teaching career began in a one-room school in Pine Coulee, Stavely, Alberta, in 1921 at the early age of sixteen following his graduation from the Calgary normal school.  Though his interests were undoubtedly varied at this age, the young Priestley never doubted his choice of teaching as a career and never wavered in his dedication whether it was as Vice-Principal at Hanna High School, as a High School teacher at Red Deer, or as instructor at the University of Alberta and Mount Royal Junior College at Calgary, or as Professor at the University of British Columbia and at University College, Toronto.

With this dedication to teaching, Professor Priestley brought a life-long commitment to learning and research, as the checklist of his publications which follows amply testifies.  His insatiable appetite for reading and learning based on a growing conviction that all branches of knowledge complete, correct, and balance each other, earned him recognition at an early age as a young adolescent schoolboy in Lethbridge and also as an undergraduate at the University of Alberta from which he graduated in 1930.  True to his vision of the wholeness of knowledge, his Ph.D. thesis at the University of Toronto in 1940 was an edition with commentaries of Godwin’s Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and involved Priestley in the study of History, Philosophy, Political Science and English.  Since then, he has written on such diverse figures as Tennyson, Browning, Mill, Pope, Newton, Chaucer, Keats and others.  As one of the most widely read people of the generation, he conversed with ease and grace on such wide ranging topics as Psychology, Aesthetic Theory, History, Economics, Law and Scientific Thought.

Professor Priestley has received numerous honours for his outstanding achievements as teacher and scholar and has been widely recognized for his unrivalled contribution to the welfare of the humanities in Canada.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1952 and of the Royal Society of Literature in 1958.  He was appointed to the editorial board of the Journal of the History of Ideas in 1958, and was President of the Humanities Association of Canada from 1962 to 1964.  He was also chairman of the Editorial Board and General Editor of the Mill Project from 1959 to 1971 and Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Disraeli Project from 1975 to 1978.  In 1964, Mount Allison University conferred on him the degree of D. Litt., as did the Universities of Alberta and of Western Ontario in 1973, Acadia University in 1987 and York University in 1988, posthumously.  Professor Priestley was a lifetime Honorary Fellow of Huron College, London, Ontario and life member of the Humanities Association, the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English and the Victorian Studies Association of Western Canada.



Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness. By William Godwin.  University of Toronto.  Department of English Studies and Texts 2. 3 vols.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1946; rpt. 1969.

Special Editor. The Canadian Dictionary: French-English.  Ed.  Jean-Paul Vinay.  Toronto; McClelland and Stewart, 1962.

General Editor.  Representative Poetry.  Prepared by members of the Department of English and the University of Toronto.  3rd ed.  3 vols  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1962-63.

General Editor, 1959-71.  Collected Works of John Stuart Mill.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press; London; Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1963-

Vanity Fair.  By W.W. Thackeray. College Classics in English.  Toronto: Macmillan, 1969.

Chairman, Editorial Board, 1974-78. The Disraeli Project.  Queen’s University.

Member, Board of Editors. Journal of the History of Ideas. 1957-


The Humanities in Canada.  A report prepared for the Humanities Research Council of Canada.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1064; rpt. 1972.

Language and Structure in Tennyson’s Poetry.  The Language Library.  London: Andre Deutsch, 1973. 188 p.

Undergraduate English Studies in Canada.  [with H.I. Kerpneck].  Report Commissioned by the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English.  1976. 111 p.

“Canadian English.”  British and American English since 1900.  Eds. Eric Partrudge and John W. Clark.  NewYork: Philosophical Library, 1951. 72-79

“English Language.”  Encyclopedia Canadiana.  Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal: Grolier, 1956. Vol. 4. 8-11.

“Creative Scholarship.”  The Arts in Canada: A stock-taking at Mid-Century.  Ed.  M.M. Ross.  Toronto: Macmillan, 1958.  98-101.

“‘Those Scattered Rays Convergent’:  Science and Imagination in English Literature.”  Science and the Creative Spirit: Essays on Humanistic Aspects of Science.  Ed.  Harcourt Brown.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press 1958: rpt. 1972. 53-88.

“Pope and the Great Chain of Being.”  Essays in English Literature from the Renaissance to the Victorian Age Presented to A.S.P. Woodhouse, 1964.  Eds.  Millar MacLure and F.W. Watt. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964, 213-28.

“William Godwin and History.”  Essays in Legal History in Honor of Felix Frankfurter.  Ed.  Morris D. Forkosch Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966.  423-37.

“Browning, Robert and Elizabeth Barret.”  New Catholic Encyclopedia.  New York:  McGraw-Hill, 1967.  Vol. 2. 826-27.

“The Humanities:  Specific Needs.”  Scholarship in Canada, 1967:  Achievement and Outlook.  Ed.  R.H. Hubbard.  Toronto: The Royal Society of Canada and the University of Toronto Press, 1968.  123-42.

“Introduction.”  Of Several Branches:  Essays from the Humanities Association Bulletin.  Eds. Gerald McCaughey and Maurice Legris.  Toronto:  University of Alberta and University of Toronto Press, 1968.  Ix-xii.

“Some Aspects of Browning’s Irony.”  Browning’s Mind and Art.  Ed.  Clarence Tracy. Edinburgh and London:  Oliver and Boyd, 1968.  123-42

“Introduction.”  Essays on Ethics, Religion and Society: Collected Works of John Stuart Mill. Eds. F.E.L.  Priestley et al.  Toronto: University of Toronto Press; London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1969.  Vol. 10.  Vii-lxvii.

“The Clarke-Leibniz Controversy.”  The Methodological Heritage of Newton.  Eds. Robert E. Butts and John W. Davis.  Toronto:  University of Toronto Press; Oxford:  Basil Blackwell, 1970.  34-56.

“English:  An Obsolete Industry?”  In the Name of Language. Ed J. Gold.  Toronto: Macmillan, 1975. 18-45.

“Berkeley and Newtonianism:  The Principles and the Dialogues.”  The Practical Vision:  Essays in Honour of Flora Roy.  Eds. J. Campbell and J. Doyle.  Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier UP, 1978.  49-70.

“The Humanistic Context of Scientific Ideas.”  Humanities in the Present Day.  Eds.  John Woods and Harold G. Coward.  Waterloo:  Wilfred Laurier UP, 1979.  51-64.

“Style and Genre:  The Princess.”  Tennyson:  A Collection of Critical Essays.  Ed.  Elizabeth A. Francis.  Englewoods Cliffs, N. J.:  Prentice-Hall, 1980.  96-10


“Unpoeted I Write.”  Times Literary Supplement 4 Feb.  1939:  73.

“Platonism in William Godwin’s Political Justice.”  Modern Language Quarterly 4 (1943):  63-69.

“Keats and Chaucer.”  Modern Language Quarterly 5 (1944):  439-47.

“Blougram’s Apologetics.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 15 (1946):  139-47; rpt.  In The Browning Critics.  Eds.  Boyd Litzinger and K.L. Knickerbocker.  Lexington:  University of Kentucky Press, 1965.  167-80, and in Robert Browning’s Poetry.  New York:  Norton, 1979.  554-63.

“Newton and the Romantic Concept of Nature.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 17 (1948):  323-36.

“Tennyson’s Idylls.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 19 (1949):  35-49; rpt.  In Critical Essays on the Poetry of Tennyson.  Ed. John Killham.  London:  Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1960.  239-55 and in Tennyson’s Poetry.  Ed. Robert W. Hill, Jr. New York: Norton, 1971.  634-48.

“Do we Talk ‘Canadian’?”  Saturday Night 10 May 1952: 13.

“Critique of James R. Naiden’s ‘Newton Demands the Latin Muse’.”  Symposium 6 (May 1952):  120-22.

“Problems of a three-dimensional Education.”  Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada.  3rd series.  48(June 1954): 41-46.

“A Reading of La Saisiaz.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 25 (1955):  47-59; rpt.  In Robert Browning:  A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Philip Drew.  London:  Methuen, 1966.  242-56.

“Drama and the Social Historian.”  Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada.  3rd series.  51 (June 1957):  23-29.

“Science and the Poet.”  Dalhousie Review 38 (1958): 141-53.

“The Humanities Association and the University.”  Humanities Association Bulletin 27 (Apr. 1959):15-17, rpt.  in Of Several Branches:         Essays from the Humanities Association Bulletin. Eds.        Gerald McCaughey and Maurice Legris.  Toronto:  University of Alberta and University of Toronto Press, 1968.  65-69.

“Browning and Tennyson:  A Heresy.”  English Exchange 7 (Winter 1962):  5-16.

“The Ironic Pattern of Browning’s Paracelsus.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 30 (1964):  68-81.

“A.S.P.  Woodhouse, 1895-1964.”     Transactions of the Royal Society of Canada.  4th series.  3 (1965):  183-88.

“The Future of the Bulletin.”    Editorial.  Humanities Association Bulletin 17 (Autumn 1966): 3.

“The Future of the Humanities in Ontario Universities.”  Humanities Association Bulletin 19 (Winter 1968): 3-13

“Partridge, Mr. Eric -75*.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 38 (1969):  211-12.

“‘Order, Union, Full Consent of Things’.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 42 (1972):  1-13.

“Science and the Humanities—Are There Two ‘Cultures’?”  Humanities Association Bulletin 23 (Fall 1972): 12-22.

“The Central Paradox in Browning.”   Humanities Association Review 24 (Spring 1973):  87-97.

“Locksley Hall Revisited.”  Queen’s Quarterly 81 (1974):  512-32.

“Festschrift for Marjorie H. Nicolson.”  Journal of the History of Ideas 24 (1963):  433-39.  [Review of Reason and the Imagination:  Studies in the History of Ideas.  Ed.  J.A. Mazzeo.]

“Mapping the World of Ideas.”  Journal of the History of Ideas 35 (1974)):  527-37.  [Review of Dictionary of the History of Ideas:  Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas.]

“Science and the Humanities.”  Humanities Association Review 27 (Fall 1976):  353-67.

“The Uses of Literature.”  Dalhousie Review 58 (1978):  5-16.

“Reflections on Burke.”  Dalhousie Review 63 (1983):  13-21.

“Understanding the ‘Analytico-Referential Lion’.”  Science Fiction Studies 11 (Mar. 1984):  82-87.  [On The Discourse of Modernism.  By Timothy Reiss.]

“Halley Greets Newton’s Principia.”  Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 80 (1986):  30311.

“Newton and the Apple.”  Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada 81 (1987):  185-94.


Charles Darwin and the Voyage of the Beagle.  Ed. Nora Barlow.  Canadian Forum 26 (1947):  237.

Arthur Murphy.  By John Pike Emery.  Canadian Forum 27 (1947):  23.

Kilvert’s Diary 1870-1879.  Ed.  William Plomer.  Canadian Forum 27 (1947):  72.

Mary Barton.  By Mrs. Gaskell.  Canadian Forum 27 (1947):  143.

“Letters in Canada:  1951.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 21 (1952):  293-94, 297.  [Maud:  An Essay on Tennyson’s Poem.  By Kenneth P. Kirkwood, and Inquiring Spirit.  By Kathleen Coburn.]

“The Victorian Sage.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 23 (1954):  193-95.  [The Victorian Sage.  By John Holloway.]

“Pope and Homer.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 23 (1954):  210-13.  [Pope and the Heroic Tradition:  A Critical Study of His Iliad.  By Douglas Knight.]

“Letters in Canada:  1953.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 23 (1954):  288-89.  [Artificial Bastard:  A Biography of Richard Savage.  By Clarence Tracy.]

The Life of Joseph Addison.  By Peter Smither.  Canadian Forum 34 (1954):  43.

“Letters in Canada:  1955.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 25 (1956):  338-40.  [Dickens and his Readers.  By George H. Ford and Coleridge and Sara Hutchinson and the Asra Poems.  By George Whalley.]

The Hero in Eclipse in Victorian Fiction.  By Mario Praz, and Curious Annals:  New Documents relating to Browning’s Roman Murder Story.  By Beatrice Corrigan.  Canadian Forum 36 (1956):  117-18.

“Letters in Canada:  1956.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 26 (1957):  321-22.  [Curious Annals:  New Documents relating to Browning’s Roman Murder Story.  By Beatrice Corrigan.]

The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  Vol. 1. Ed. Kathleen Coburn.  Journal of the History of Ideas.  19 (1958):  593-96.

The New Testament in Modern English.  By. J.B. Phillips.  Canadian Churchman 86 (Apr. 1959): 10.

The Correspondence of Edmund Burke.  Vol. 1. Ed. Thomas W. Copeland.  Modern Philology 57  (Aug. 1959):  62-64.

“Turning New Leaves.”  Canadian Forum 40 (1960): 45-46.  [A Short History of Scientific Ideas to 1900.  By Charles Singer.]

The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods.  By Frank E. Manuel.  Dalhousie Review 40 (1960): 105-6.

“Letters in Canada:  1959.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 29 (1960): 477-78.  [The Ethical Idealism of Matthew Arnold.  By William Robbins.]

The Dean and the Anarchist.  By James A. Preu.  Modern Philology 58 (Nov. 1960):  136-38

“Letters in Canada:  1961.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 31 (1962):  495-500.  [This Universe of Space.  By Peter Millman, IGY, The Year of the New Moons.  By J. Tuzo Wilson, and Free-will and Determinism.  By Allan M. Munn.]

“Tennyson.” University of Toronto Quarterly 32 (1962): 102-6.  Tennyson:  The Growth of a Poet.  By J.H. Buckley.]

“Letters in Canada:  1965.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 35 (1966):  398-400.  [Pre-Raphaelitism:  A Biblio-critical Study.  By William E. Fredeman.]

The Newman Brothers.  By William Robbins.  Mill News Letter (Fall 1966): 15.

“The Wellesley Index.”  University of Toronto Quarterly 36 (1967):  308-10.  [The Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, 1824-1900.  Ed. Walter Houghton.]

Four Pamphlets by William Godwin.  Ed. Burton R. Pollin. Burke and his Time 9 (1968): 983-86.

The Dialectical Temper:  The Rhetorical Art of Robert Browning.  By W. David Shaw.  Browning Newsletter (Fall 1971): 53-56.

Fearful Joy:  Papers from the Thomas Gray Bicentenary Conference.  Eds.  James Downey and Ben Jones.  English Quarterly 7 (1974):  164-66.

Thackery:  The Major Novels.  By Juliet McMaster.  English Studies in Canada 1 (1975):  115-21.

Darwin and his Critics.  By D.L. Hull.  Victorian Periodical Newsletter 8.3 (1975):  110-12.

The Omnipresent Debate:  Empiricism and Transcendentalism in Nineteenth-Century English Prose.  By Wendell V. Harris.  Mill News Letter 18.2  (1983):  33-36.

Revised and enlarged from Donald S. Hair’s Checklist in English Studies in Canada 1 (1975):  139-43.