A Very Large Soul: Selected Letters from Margaret Laurence to Canadian Writers

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Cormorant Books, 1995 - Literary Collections - 264 pages
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This collection of letters from Margaret Laurence to thirty-three Canadian writers is an intensely personal articulation of her development as a writer, and of the accompanying growth of Canadian literature between 1962 and 1986.

Included are letters to Margaret Atwood, Don Bailey, George Bowering, Ernest Buckler, Silver Donald Cameron, Marian Engel, Hubert Evans, Timothy Findley, Gary Geddes, Graeme Gibson, Harold Horwood, Myrna Kotash, Robert Kroetsch, Dennis Lee, Norman Levine, Hugh MacLennan, Joyce Marshall, John Metcalf, Claire Mowat, Alice Munro, Frank Paci, Al Purdy, Janis Rapoport, Will Ready, Mordecai Richler, Gabrielle Roy, Andreas Schroeder, Glen Sorestad, David Watmough, David Williams, Budge Wilson, George Woodcock, and Dale Zieroth, with anecdotal or interpretive remarks.

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Don Bailey
Ernest Buckler
Silver Donald Cameron

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About the author (1995)

Canadian author Margaret Laurence was born Jean Margaret Wemyss in Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada, on July 18, 1926. She attended United College (now the University of Winnipeg), receiving her B.A. in 1947. Shortly after graduation, she married Jack Laurence, a hydraulic engineer whose job would often take them overseas; the Laurences lived in England for a year, moved to British Somaliland in 1950, and then to Ghana in 1952. It was in Africa that Laurence wrote her first book, A Tree for Poverty, which was a translation of Somali poetry and stories. She also wrote about her experiences in Somaliland in a travel memoir, The Prophet's Camel Bell, and used Africa as a setting for her first fictional work, a novel called This Side Jordan, and a collection of short stories, The Tomorrow Tamers. This Side Jordan received the 1961 Beta Sigma Phi Award for the best first novel by a Canadian. Laurence is best known, however, for her Manawaka books, which are set in Canada. They include The Stone Angel, The Fire Dwellers House, A Bird in the House, A Jest of God, and The Diviners. The latter two books both received the Governor General's Award, in 1967 and 1975, respectively. After living in Africa, England, and several other countries for many years, Laurence returned to Canada in 1974, settling in Lakefield, Ontario, where she remained until her death in 1987. The Energy Probe Research Foundation, an environmental organization for which she served as one of the directors, now sponsors the Margaret Laurence Fund for projects related to the environment and peace, areas in which Laurence was very active during the last decade of her life.

J. A. Wainwright has lived in Spain, Greece, and England, and for the last twenty years has lived in Nova Scotia where he teaches. He edited Notes for a Native Land, coedited Soundings, is the author of Moving Outward, The Requiem Journals, After the War, Flight of the Falcom: Scott's Journey to the South Pole 1910-1912, and Landscape and Desire: Poems Selected and New. He received a B.A. from the University of Toronto and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Canadian Literature from Dalhousie University where he is McCulloch Professor in English.

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