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Margaret Hannay

Posted By RSA, Friday, September 16, 2016

Dr. Margaret Hannay (1944–2016) was a professor of English at Siena College from 1980 to 2013, where she taught Elizabethan literature, Shakespeare, and the Great Books course for first-year students. She served as chair of the department and of the core curriculum committee. She published dozens of articles and seventeen books, including Mary Sidney, Lady Wroth, Philip’s Phoenix, and C. S. Lewis, as well as seven volumes of collected works and correspondence of the Sidney family (with Noel Kinnamon and Michael Brennan), and, most recently, The Ashgate Companion to the Sidneys 1500–1700 (2015, with Michael Brennan and Mary Ellen Lamb). Hannay received numerous awards for her scholarship, including the Raymond Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award from Siena College and lifetime achievement awards from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women (a society that she founded and then served as president) and the International Sidney Society (where she also served as president).

Margaret was exemplary on personal as well as professional levels. She was so wise, and her wisdom was so much part of her character—thoughtful and reflective, able to see various perspectives at once, calm when those around her were anxious. One of several occasions when I was privileged to encounter her wisdom firsthand was when we were coediting the Ashgate Research Companion to the Sidneys with Michael Brennan. She was always able to see through the surface noise to the deeper issues. She was never overly concerned with the little glitches that always come up in a large editing project; she had faith that all would turn out right as of course it did. Whatever her health concerns, she set her worries aside to answer emails about what were sometimes trivial matters (whether to capitalize a lord’s title in this vs. that circumstance). She was always dependable and ever encouraging. I was privileged to encounter her wisdom on a personal level as well. Long ago, when I was considering marriage to my current husband, who is a mathematician, she asserted, “Well, mathematicians make excellent husbands, but you do have to dress them.” She was of course right. I miss her so much, and I am still trying to pretend that she is right there, on the other side of my email, ready to advise me on anything from husbands to capitalizations.

Mary Ellen Lamb
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale

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