Library and Archives Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Institutional links

Literary Archives

Previous | Table of Contents | Next

List of Fonds and Collections


Frances Itani fonds. - 1942-2000. - 3.9 m of textual record and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Frances Susan Itani (née Hill) is a writer, teacher and editor who works in the genres of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, children's literature, reviews and radio drama. She was born in Belleville, Ontario, in 1942. "Sam or Sammy," as her parents and siblings call her, moved with her family to Quebec in 1947 where she grew up in the village of Deschênes. She became a registered nurse (Montreal General Hospital School of Nursing, 1963), studied for eight months in a post-graduate program at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina and completed a year of graduate study in nursing at McGill University (1966-67). She holds a BA in English and Psychology from the University of Alberta (1974), where she studied with and became a close friend of W.O. Mitchell, her first writing teacher. She also studied with Rudy Wiebe in Alberta. She earned an MA in English Literature at the University of New Brunswick (1980). Her thesis "Ten Short Stories" was supervised by Maritime poet/editor/professor Dr. Fred Cogswell. Ms. Itani practised and taught nursing for a total of eight years during the 1960s and 70s, before she began to write. Because of her background in nursing and psychology, she continues to work, as a volunteer, for various organizations affiliated with medical institutions. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the Ottawa Deaf Centre.

Frances Itani has written eight books including a novel, Leaning, Leaning Over Water (1998); three collections of short stories, Man Without Face (1994), Pack Ice (1989), and Truth or Lies (1989); a children's book Linger By the Sea (1979) illustrated by Molly Bobak; three books of adult poetry, one of which, A Season of Mourning, was also illustrated by Bobak. Two other books of poetry, No Other Lodgings (1978) and Rentee Bay (1983), were illustrated by Shizuye Takashima. In 1997, Ms. Itani co-edited, with Susan Zettell, the posthumous stories (One of the Chosen), of her former student, Danuta Gleed. She is family advisor to the Danuta Gleed Literary Award, an annual, national award for short fiction administered by The Writers' Union of Canada. Ms. Itani has always been interested in writing for radio. Toronto actor Eve Crawford has done many readings of Itani's CBC stories and has performed in her radio drama.

Frances Itani has won national awards, including the CBC/Tilden/Saturday Night Literary Awards in both 1995 and 1996 for her short stories. She won third prize in the CBC Literary Competition in 1984, was awarded the Ottawa-Carleton Book Award in 1995 and the Canadian Fiction Magazine award for best short story in 1987. Her work has been published widely across Canada in anthologies, journals and periodicals. Ms. Itani was poetry editor of The Canadian Forum from 1996-1998. She has taught creative writing at many schools, workshops and universities in Canada and Europe, as well as at The Banff Centre School of Fine Arts. She was writer-in-residence at the Nepean Public Library (1989) and teaches every spring at Trent University.

Frances Itani has always enjoyed learning languages and began to travel at an early age. Her interests include the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War, about which she has written extensively. She married (1967) Japanese-Canadian, Major (retired) Tetsuo Itani, OMM, CD, who served for 37 years in the Canadian Forces and who now works for international organizations, primarily teaching international humanitarian law and working in the area of human rights and humanitarian relief. This affiliation has much affected Ms. Itani's work as she has moved several times to countries at war, or to other continents, where she has set stories or articles of non-fiction. The Itanis have lived in seven Canadian provinces and have raised two children, Russell (b.1971) and Samantha (b.1973).

Scope and Content

The fonds consists of manuscripts, correspondence, art work, photographs, mixed media (newspapers, audio and audio visual material), academic information and other material relating to the personal interests and activities of Frances Itani. The fonds is divided into 11 series, with sub-series. The series are: 1. Correspondence; 2. W.O. Mitchell; 3. Danuta Gleed; 4. Rita Donovan; 5. Fred Cogswell; 6. Promotional material; 7. CBC; 8. Fiction and non-fiction, published and unpublished works (three sub-series: first-draft scribblers, manuscripts, and Leaning, Leaning Over Water); 9. Personal material and memorabilia; 10. Personal correspondence between mother and son; and 11. Peacekeeping, war correspondence and war journal.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: acquired from Frances Itani in March 2001.

Language: material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: some restrictions on consultation.

Finding Aid: finding aid available.

Previous | Table of Contents | Next