Stories, Essays, and Letters
When Ethel Wilson published her first novel, Hetty Dorval,in 1947, she was nearly sixty years old. With her following books, sheestablished herself as British Columbia's most distinguishedfiction writer and one of Canada's best loved and most studiedauthors. Although she enjoyed and even encouraged her reputation as anunambitious latecomer who wrote for her own pleasure, she was, as DavidStouck reveals in this book, a person who took her writing veryseriously.
Drawing on the Wilson papers held at the University of BritishColumbia, Stouck provides an important survey of Wilson's talentswhile at the same time offering the fullest biography of the author todate. Especially interesting is Wilson's previously unpublishedcorrespondence with her editor John Gray and with fellow writers suchas Mazo de la Roche, Earle Birney, Dorothy Livesay, and MargaretLaurence.
Nine short stories are included in this volume, eight of which arepreviously unpublished and one which is reprinted for the first time ina collection of Wilson's work.
Her personal recollections, her accounts of crises at the very moment of their happening, her long letters to John Gray... these are the most valuable documents we are given here. It is the partial opening of a literary treasure trove.
This volume is better than a biography because it is in Wilson's own words. It makes plain that she is more than a mere forerunner of the great flowering of Canadian fiction in the 1960s. It is, like its author, a handsome, charming, moving, illuminating book.
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