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Irene Howard is a freelance writer, researcher, broadcaster, literary agent and teacher of English literature. She was born in Prince Rupert, B.C. on November 19, 1922 to a Swedish father and Norwegian mother, and has lived most of her life in British Columbia. She obtained a permanent teaching certificate from the University of Victoria in 1943 and graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1948. She went back to UBC in 1964 and obtained her MA in English, specializing in medieval literature. She taught at the elementary school, college and university levels from 1941-1983. She was a full-time lecturer at UBC from 1964-1965, a full-time instructor at Vancouver City College in 1971, and a full-time instructor at Capilano College from 1977-1983.
Howard's interest in her Swedish heritage led her to write her first book, Vancouver's Svenskar: A History of the Swedish Community in Vancouver published by the Vancouver Historical Society in 1970. She published several articles on the life and work of Vancouver writer Ethel Wilson (1888-1980). She researched and wrote an article about the Branvolds, "The Brandvolts of Diamond Head," who developed the Diamond Head area of Garibaldi Mountain in the 1940s and 1950s. She had a great interest in aural history research, and taped interviews of members and survivors of Vancouver's turn-of-the-century "high society" families which culminated in an article called "High Tea: Society in the Old West End." In 1992, she wrote a biography of social reformer Helena Gutteridge, the first woman elected to Vancouver City Council in 1912. Howard was also the literary agent and editor for Ronald Liversedge and worked on his unpublished manuscript, A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War. She went on to publish other books, such as one on Bowen Island in 1973 and one based on her family history called Gold Dust on His Shirt.
Irene Howard is also a member of several organizations, such as the Vancouver International Folkdancers, and was a candidate agent for the B.C. New Democratic Party in 1996. Her interests included issues relating to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, nuclear disarmament, the peace movement and the Vancouver West End Tenant Association.