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Biography & Autobiography Women

A Tale of Two Divas

The Curious Adventures of Jean Forsyth and Edith J. Miller in Canada's Edwardian West

by (author) Elspeth Cameron

with Gail Kreutzer

J. Gordon Shillingford Publishing
Initial publish date
Jan 2017
Women, Composers & Musicians, Cultural Heritage
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2017
    List Price

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A Tale of Two Divas tells the story of two Canadian singers who began as soloists in church choirs, but eventually moved on to spectacular careers. Soprano Jean Forsyth and contralto Edith Miller knew each other well. They met when nineteen-year-old Edith studied vocal music with Jean, almost twenty-five years her senior, in Winnipeg in 1894. After that their paths crisscrossed. This tale of two voices contrasts the ways in which Jean and Edith achieved success. Edith Miller's path was clear and committed. An only child from Portage la Prairie when there were only about 700 citizens, she forged through to the very top in England, singing in the Proms, at the Festival of Empire to celebrate the coronation of King George V in 1911, and at Covent Garden before marrying a baronet. Jean Forsyth never married and was drawn to many other interests. What might have been a vocal success story like Edith's was diluted by the compassion for animals that led her to the founding of the Winnipeg Humane Society, her support of various charities, her dabblings as a actress, her journalism, her utter dedication to the many vocal students she launched on careers of their own, and her fulsome enjoyment of many social events.

About the authors

Elspeth Cameron is the author of three award-winning biographies: Hugh MacLennan: A Writer's Life (1981), Irving Layton: A Portrait (1985), and Earle Birney: A Life (1994). Her 1997 memoir No Previous Experience won the W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize. She was the recipient of the UBC Medal for Canadian Biography in 1981 and the City of Vancouver Book Award in 1995. Her biography of Hugh MacLennan was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award. She has written numerous profiles of Canadian cultural figures such as Peter Newman, Jack McClelland, Veronica Tennant, Anne Murray, Howard Engel, Janette Turner Hospital, and Timothy Findley, winning several journalism awards. Her work has appeared in Saturday Night, Chatelaine, Maclean's, Leisureways, and in a number of academic journals. In addition, she has edited seven books, including Great Dames, a collection of biographical sketches, memoirs, and essays about twentieth-century Canadian women from all walks of life. She has taught English and Canadian Studies at Concordia University and the University of Toronto, and is currently an adjunct professor in the English Language and Literature Department at Brock University. Elspeth now lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, and is at work on a biography of Group of Seven member, A.Y. Jackson.

Elspeth Cameron's profile page

Gail Kreutzer's profile page

Other titles by Elspeth Cameron