Herman Northrop Frye CC FRSC (July 14, 1912 – January 23, 1991) was a Canadian literary critic and literary theorist, considered one of the most influential of the 20th century.
Frye gained international fame with his first book, Fearful Symmetry (1947), which led to the reinterpretation of the poetry of William Blake. His lasting reputation rests principally on the theory of literary criticism that he developed in Anatomy of Criticism (1957), one of the most important works of literary theory published in the twentieth century. The American critic Harold Bloom commented at the time of its publication that Anatomy established Frye as "the foremost living student of Western literature." Frye's contributions to cultural and social criticism spanned a long career during which he earned widespread recognition and received many honours.
Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec but raised in Moncton, New Brunswick, Frye was the third child of Herman Edward Frye and of Catherine Maud Howard. His much older brother, Howard, died in World War I; he also had a sister, Vera. His first cousin was the scientist Alma Howard. Frye went to Toronto to compete in a national typing contest in 1929. He studied for his undergraduate degree at Victoria College in the University of Toronto, where he edited the college literary journal, Acta Victoriana. He then studied theology at Emmanuel College (like Victoria College, a constituent part of the University of Toronto). After a brief stint as a student minister in Saskatchewan, he was ordained to the ministry of the United Church of Canada. He then studied at Merton College, Oxford, where he was a member and Secretary of the Bodley Club before returning to Victoria College, where he spent the remainder of his professional career.