Margaret Hannay

Margaret Hannay

Margaret Hannay passed away peacefully this morning.  Margaret was one of the founding “mothers” of EMW as well as a pioneer in women’s studies.  Among her many writings, she is known for her two seminal biographies of Mary Sidney and Mary Wroth and for her edition of the poems of Mary Sidney, done with Noel Kinnemon and Michael Brennan. As many of us gather in Bruges next week, we will lovingly remember her in a city which her husband tells me was at the top of Margaret’s list to visit.

– Georgianna Ziegler
August 12, 2016

Margaret Hannay was a faculty member at Siena College since 1980. Her specialty was the literature of early modern England and she taught Elizabethan Literature, English Renaissance Literature, and Shakespeare. She won the SSEMW Book of the Year Award in 2011 for Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth (Ashgate Press, 2010) and the same year the SSEMW awarded her and her co-editors the Josephine A. Roberts Edition Award for The Correspondence (c. 1626-1659) of Dorothy Percy Sidney, Countess of Leicester. Other awards include the Jean Robertson Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Sidney Society.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 28th at 1:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church, 362 State Street, Albany, NY.

Free EMW & Sidney Books from Margaret Hannay – from David Hannay

Margaret requested that her books be given away at no cost to those in her fields of study who would most appreciate them.

I have prepared a PDF catalog of (over 600) books that Margaret used for her research on the Sidney family and Early Modern Women writers. It may be viewed here:, or I will send you a copy directly if you email me at

If you are interested in any of the volumes on the list, please let me know.  Send me a prioritized list of the books you would like to have. (The request list may be as long as you like; there is not a maximum number of allowable requests.) If it turns out that several people are interested in the same book, I will attempt a fair distribution by allowing each person a certain number of first choices.

Please submit your requests no later than October 30th directly to me (do not reply to the entire list): Please include your mailing address so that I may send the books out via media mail.

In addition, if you know of any institutions that would be able to make use of books such as these, or any scholars who may not be on one of the Sidney-Spenser or EMW listservs but might be interested, please have them send me requests with their contact information.

The goal is for Margaret’s collection of scholarly books to be put into the hands of those who could best use them.
Thank you for your help!

David (for Margaret Hannay)

Comments from friends and colleagues

“At the second Attending, Margaret went to lunch with four of my graduate students, who were delighted with all the details of researching Sidney and Wroth–she was so generous. At a later Attending, students in my grad seminar had read and reported on books by many scholars presenting that year, and Margaret happened to sit next to the one who had read her biography of Sidney, and she generously introduced herself, making that student’s day. We will miss her so much!”

Jane L. Donawerth

“Margaret was truly special, though she would be the first one to say that everyone is special.  I loved working with her, talking with her, walking with her at K’zoo and elsewhere, and will miss her deeply.  She and David managed a happy 50th anniversary celebration some months ago when she was still in remission, and by all accounts her leaving this world was as peaceful as it gets.  May her joyous vision of heaven be the one that holds her now.”

Susanne Woods

“She exemplified the spirit of generous scholarly exchange across disciplines that made EMW such a haven from the outset. Listening to her papers and hearing her address the early logistical challenges of getting EMW underway was an education. Her kindly interest in everyone else was an inspiration. It was an honor to have known her and I trust her EMW legacy will continue with future generations of scholars.”

Rebecca W. S. More

“Kind, gracious, and, over and over, a ‘wonderful, generous scholar.’
To name our book prize after Margaret Hannay would be an honor to our organization.
May her memory be for a blessing.”

Naomi Yavneh

“Thanks to all for sharing your lovely memories of Margaret.  I will be forever indebted to her for her scholarship, and it’s wonderful to hear that she has been such a generous friend and colleague to others as well.  Yes, yes, yes, to the book-prize naming.”

Elizabeth Hodgson

“Margaret was a fine scholar, an indefatigable promoter of women’s studies, and, as everyone attests here, a generous and supportive colleague. We met many many years ago at the Kalamazoo Spenser sessions and our paths have crossed many times  –  but not often enough – over the years. She was always warmly interested in other people’s research, especially when it concerned early modern women. To name an EMW book prize in her honour is therefore a wonderful idea!”

Brenda Hosington

“A superb scholar, path-finder and path-maker, and always  gracious and generous, so productive herself and the cause of scholarship in others.”

Sharon Seelig

“I met her only once, about 5 minutes before I was presenting in one of the Sidney Society sessions at RSA New York, during the final months of my PhD. I was so excited (and nervous) that she was there, as I was talking about Rowland Whyte’s letters, which she’d just co-edited with Michael Brennan and Noel Kinnamon. Vicki Burke very kindly introduced us, and in the few minutes we spoke together Margaret’s graciousness shone through and went to my heart. I can easily believe she was as inspiring in person as in print for those fortunate enough to know her better.”

Felicity Maxwell

“I met Margaret for the first time at the 2003 MLA when I was a graduate student giving a paper on Mary Sidney’s psalm translations. She asked me a question that was both kind and wise, and I remember being put immediately at ease by her support, encouragement, and warmth. That initial impression only deepened with every conversation I had with her in the ensuing years. She was a brilliant and generous scholar and an exemplary mentor. I feel fortunate to have known her and to be a part of the scholarly community that has been shaped by her leadership and her gracious spirit.”

Katie Larson

“I was so sad to hear about Margaret Hannay’s death and have been touched by reading your tributes to her. She was an amazing scholar and a kind and gracious person. I remember once being in a MLA session she had organized on early modern women playwrights; the session took place at the very end of the convention, and the audience was small. But the question and answer period, guided by Margaret, was lively, informative, and enjoyable; it ran way over the official ending time, and I wasn’t alone in wanting to stay longer.  I wish Margaret had had more time to live–and to visit Bruges.  She will be sorely missed. I love Elaine’s idea of giving Margaret’s name to the annual EMW book award.”

Margie Ferguson

“I met Margaret only once but her wise and collegial influence was felt throughout the four years of the Female Biography Project to produce the Chawton House Library Edition of Mary Hays’s Female Biography. Margaret was generous with her own time as scholar, and a constant source of recommendations for and thoughtful introductions to other distinguished scholars who, like Margaret, burnished our collaborative efforts.”

Gina Luria Walker

One thought on “Margaret Hannay

  • Rob Kilgore

    I had long been studying Margaret Hannay’s scholarship, when as a grad student I met her once at Kalamazoo. I had given a paper, which she had heard, and she sought me out afterwards and said the most generous and encouraging words about my work, even though I felt uncertain about it. That sounds small, I guess, but I was kinda blown away. It meant a lot to me, and I was often encouraged thinking back to what she had said. I am sad about her passing and wish her family, friends, and her colleagues peace.

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