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The English department has enjoyed the services of more women teachers than any other department in the College of Liberal Arts. Three whose careers spanned several decades were Edna Hayes (Taylor), Agnes Virginia Harlow, and Ermina Murlin Mills.

The first to join the DePauw teaching staff was Edna Hayes, a graduate of Denison University with teaching experience there and at the high school level. She was appointed an instructor of English composition and rhetoric in 1918. Four years later she married James Taylor and left the university to raise a family. After her husband's death in 1935 she returned to DePauw to teach in the new English department, which combined both composition and literature. She earned an M.A. from Ohio State University in 1939. Known to generations of students as Mrs. Shakespeare for her devotion to the Bard of Avon, she was an inspirational and beloved teacher. Former students contributed to a fund to send her to England in the summer of 1952 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. An ardent Anglophile, she wrote two prize-winning coronation poems while there. Professor Taylor retired in 1956 but continued to teach part-time for another decade and spent one year as a visiting instructor at the American Collegiate Institute in Turkey. She died in 1984.

Virginia Harlow came to DePauw in 1919 after two years of teaching at the State Normal School in Shippensburg, Pa. A graduate of Mount Holyoke in the same class as Anna Olmstead (Raphael), who joined the faculty in the same year as a member of the Romance languages department, she later earned an M.A. from the University of California and Ph.D. from Duke. Her doctoral dissertation, published by Duke University Press, was highly praised by literary historians. She was a demanding teacher, thorough in her scholarship and lucid in class presentation. In 1952 she was chosen to succeed veteran Raymond W. Pence as head of the English department, the first woman to hold that post. Reaching the mandatory age of retirement in 1956, Professor Harlow remained active in teaching both at DePauw and abroad for several years, including stints as a Fulbright-Hays lecturer at Hiroshima University in Japan and visiting professor of English at Seoul National University in Korea. She died in Greencastle in 1977.

The youngest of the three, Ermina Murlin Mills, was a graduate of Cornell College in Iowa who was brought to DePauw in 1928 as an assistant to Professor Francis Tilden in the department of comparative literature. The daughter of Henry A. Mills, former dean of the DePauw School of Art, she had earned an M.A. at Boston University and taught seven years at her alma mater, Cornell College. She was a prodigious reader who combined a knowledge of history and sociology in her interpretation of modern literature. Professor Mills remained a member of the comparative literature department until 1940, when upon Tilden's retirement it was combined with the English department. Transferring there she taught general European as well as English and American literature for two more decades. After her retirement in 1960 she continued to teach part-time for a few years before moving to Colorado, where she still makes her home.

Other women with shorter tenures at DePauw who made significant contributions to the teaching of English were: Lillian B. Brownfield, 1922-40; Judith K. Sollenberger, 1924-34; Mary Glenn Hamilton, 1928-34; Mary L. Fraley, 1938-48; Jean Butler Sanders, 1946-50, 1951-58; Marian Shalkhauser (Brock), 1955-57, 1961-65; and Elizabeth Ann Christman, 1969-76. Women are still well represented in the English department, which today includes Cynthia E. Cornell, Martha Rainbolt, Erin McGraw, and Jesse Lee Kercheval. The roster of part-time teachers who have served the department long and well contains the names of several others: Kathleen L. Steele, Julia D. Knuppel, Christina T. Biggs, and Ann L. Weiss.

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