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Church, Margaret



  • Existence: April 8, 1920 -

Biographical Information

Margaret Church was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 8, 1920. She received her A.B. from Radcliffe (1941), her Master’s degree from Columbia University (1942), and then returned to Radcliffe for her PhD (1944). Church taught at Temple University and at Duke University before coming to Purdue in 1953, where she joined the English Department.

When Church became a full professor in 1965, she was the first woman in the School of Liberal Arts to do so. In 1955, Church helped to found a journal that would become internationally known, Modern Fiction Studies. She remained instrumental with the publication and served as its co-editor from 1971 until her death. Church also founded Purdue’s doctoral program in Comparative Literature and served as its first director.

Outside of Purdue, Church was widely known for her work with the James Joyce Foundation and for her many published writings. Her first book was entitled Time and Reality: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (1963). Her second book was Don Quixote: The Knight of La Mancha (1971). Before her death in 1982, Church was also in the midst of finishing a third book, Structure and Theme: Don Quixote to James Joyce. The work was later finished by a friend and colleague of Church.

Throughout nearly thirty years at Purdue, Church acted as a mentor to numerous women. The Margaret Church MFS Memorial Prize was established in 1984 in memory of Dr. Church. In addition, the Purdue Board of Trustees named a distinguished professorship in honor of Church in 1998.


Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009, Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale 2009.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Margaret Church papers

 Collection — Box: Communal Collections 17, Placement: 19
Identifier: MSF 74
Scope and Contents Folder 1 contains an obituary, a short autobiography, an article about her from The Indianapolis News, four English exams from Harvard, and a rough draft of a paper written by Margaret Church, along with a catalog record for a book written by her. Folder 2 contains various Church publications and a photograph of Tennessee Williams and Tom Adler.
Dates: 1939 - 1982