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Toronto Trailblazers:
Women in Canadian Publishing

By: Ruth Panofsky

Toronto Trailblazers explores the influence of seven key women who, despite pervasive gender bias, helped advance a modern literary culture for Canada. Publisher Irene Clarke, scholarly editors Eleanor Harman and Francess Halpenny, trade editors Sybil Hutchinson, Claire Pratt, and Anna Porter, and literary agent Bella Pomer made the most of their vocational prospects, first by securing their respective positions and then by refining their professional methods. Individually, each woman asserted her agency by adapting orthodox ways of working within Canadian publishing. Collectively, their overarching approach emerged as a feminist practice. Through their vision and method these trailblazing women disrupted the dominant masculine paradigm and helped transform publishing practice in Canada.




University of Toronto Press


Finalist, Heritage Toronto Book Award


Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews, as well as a wide range of published sources, Ruth Panofsky adds the often-overlooked dimension of gender to the history of Canadian cultural production and provides important new insights into the complex workings of English-Canadian publishing houses.

Carole Gerson, Simon Fraser University


Heritage Toronto 

September 2021


2021 Book Award Nominee


The Biblio File

18 May 2021


Ruth Panofsky on Writing Women back into Publishing History



1 March 2020


The Women behind the Books


White Wall Review 

12 November 2019


Women Publishers Who Changed Everything:

Toronto Trailblazers Explores the Hidden Legacy of Canada’s Influential Women Publishers


This collection of essays enriches digital humanities research by examining various Canadian cultural works and the advances in technologies that facilitate these interdisciplinary collaborations. Fourteen essays – eleven in...


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