The tightrope walker: autobiographical writings of Anne Wilkinson
University of Toronto Press, Jul 20, 1992 - Biography & Autobiography - 275 pages
Anne Wilkinson (1910-61) was one of the most celebrated Canadian writers of her time. Her success as a poet came against all odds: nothing in her background, from geography to genealogy, would have suggested a literary career. She lived her life and practised her art in Toronto at a time when the nerve centre of Canadian poetry was unquestionably Montreal. She was born into the highest levels of Toronto society, a daughter of the very distinguished Osler family. And yet she wrote poetry, and was published to great acclaim, through decades of marriage, child-rearing, divorce, and illness.
From December 1947 to July 1956, the years during which she wrote her most successful poetry, Wilkinson kept journals; in due course she also wrote an autobiography, part of which appeared in a literary magazine shortly after she died. Joan Coldwell brings together the complete text of the autobiography with the poet's journals, some samples of her poetry, and a moving exchange of letters between Wilkinson and her mother.
The journals vividly reveal the inner workings of the writer's mind and her struggles to create in a difficult environment. With an immediacy and power that only journals can achieve, these writings explore the nature of the creative process in a context of daily realities that are often harsh and sometimes heart-breaking. The autobiography tells the story in a different way, rearranged to fit the forms of a 'legitimate' genre.
Together with Coldwell's introduction, these writings present a unique and moving self-portrait of a poet who died too young, at the peak of her career. This volume celebrates Wilkinson's life and work, and the spirit that informed them.
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