Few today have ever heard of Dora Russell (1912-1986), let alone read any of her work. At best, some might recognize the name of the wife of Ted Russell, the creator of Uncle Mose and the fictitious outport of Pigeon Inlet. But Dora was also a writer, as prolific (maybe even more so) as her husband. She was certainly much more than just the woman behind the man. Ahead Of Her Time: Selected Writings of Dora Russell offers a cross-section of her work, beginning with her years as Woman's Editor with the Evening Telegram (1945-48). Before long, she found herself in the midst of discussions emanating from the National Convention and the two referenda that led to Confederation. Two of her regular columns focused on political and social events from a uniquely female perspective, sprinkled with touches of humor and satire. She also wrote profiles of 240 prominent Newfoundland women, a superb contribution to the social history of Newfoundland in the 1940s. For her time Dora was quite remarkable. With four small children at home, she successfully carved out a niche for herself in Newfoundland journalism, setting a fine example for those who would follow.In the early 1950s, she branched out into other types of writing, notably personal essays, short stories and radio scripts. She did create one more column - "All About Stars" - which drew high praise from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
About the authors
Daughter of Ted and Dora Russell, Dr Elizabeth Miller spent all of her working life in the field of education. From 1958-68, she served as a high school teacher and principal in Joe Batt's Arm on Fogo Island. She left Joe Batt's Arm with her husband George Miller in 1968. After two years spent as Director of Communications with the Newfoundland Teachers' Association, in 1970 she joined the faculty (Department of English) of Memorial University. At MUN, Elizabeth taught courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels for the next thirty-two years. She received three significant awards: the Dean of Graduate Studies Award for Thesis Excellence (1988); the President's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1992); and the designation "Emeritus" (2004).Elizabeth found her scholarly niche first of all in the field of Newfoundland Literature. She published two biographies (of Norman Duncan and Ted Russell) and edited several anthologies of short stories and poetry. In the early 1990s her research interests took a new direction: the novel Dracula (1897), its author (Bram Stoker) and its influence. Elizabeth is recognized internationally as one of the leading scholars. Even though she retired in 2002, she continues to make productive contributions through her publications, participates in radio/television documentaries and lectures at international venues. Her research shows no signs of abating. Indeed, Elizabeth has re-embraced Newfoundland Studies with the publication of a collection of her mother's writing.Elizabeth currently lives in Toronto. Her main non-academic interests include travel and baseball.
Bernice Morgan (b. 1935), a life-long Newfoundlaner, lives in St. John's. Her stories have been published widely in literary journals, and in 1996, she was named Newfoundland Artist of the Year for her writing. Her novel Waiting for Time (Breakwater, 1994) won the Thomas Raddall Award for Fiction, and Random Passage (Breakwater, 1992) has been developed as a TV series. "Poems in a Cold Climate," which first appeared in The Fiddlehead, is from her collection, The Topography of Love (Breakwater, 2000).
At a time when women were supposed to confine their interests (let alone their writing) to the kitchen, Dora Russell refused to let her work stop at the pantry door. From the most basic civic issues to the star-flung heights of exploration she had an opinion, and a voice-and a way with words. Joan Sullivan, author of In the Field
Ahead of Her Time: Select Writings of Dora Russell, edited by her daughter Elizabeth Miller, is a captivating mix of politics, humour and reflections on family life... The juxtaposition of politics and homemaking is irresistible: in one diary entry she celebrates her husband's win in Newfoundland's first provincial election, and in the next she is planting flower seeds in her garden. Dora Russell's voice come across clearly through her writing as someone you would love to know better.