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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Intimate Strangers

The Letters of Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy

by (author) Margaret Laurence & Gabrielle Roy

edited by Paul G. Socken

University of Manitoba Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2004
Literary, Letters
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    Dec 2004
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    Dec 2004
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The books of Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy are among the most beloved in Canadian literature. In 1976, when both were at the height of their careers, they began a seven-year written correspondence. Laurence had just published her widely acclaimed The Diviners, for which she won her second Governor-General’s Award, and Roy had returned to the centre of the literary stage with a series of books that many critics now consider her richest and most mature works. Although both women had been born and raised in Manitoba — Laurence in Neepawa and Roy in St. Boniface — they met only once, in 1978 at a conference in Calgary. As these letters reveal, their prairie background created a common understanding of place and culture that bridged the differences of age and language. Here Laurence and Roy discuss everything from their own and each other’s writing, to Canadian politics, housekeeping, publishing, and their love of nature. With a thoughtful introduction by Paul G. Socken, these lovely and intimate letters record the moving, affectionate friendship between two remarkable women.

About the authors

Margaret Laurence was born in 1926 in Neepawa, Manitoba. She published her first novel, This Side of Jordan (one of several works to be set in Africa), in 1960. The Stone Angel, published in 1964, was her second novel. It was an immediate success, as were her four subsequent Manawaka novels: A Jest of God (which won the 1967 Governor General's Award and was later made into the film Rachel, Rachel), The Fire Dwellers, A Bird in the House, and The Diviners — winner of the 1974 Governor General's Award. In 1971, Laurence was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. Remembered also as a peace activist, she died in 1987.

Margaret Laurence's profile page

Gabrielle Roy was an award-winning French Canadian author.

Gabrielle Roy's profile page

Paul G. Socken has been on the faculty of University of Waterloo for thirty-three years. He is a former chair of the Department of French Studies and is the author of seven books and many scholarly articles published in France, Canada, and the United States. His area of specialization is French-Canadian literature.

Paul G. Socken's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"... a gem, a small book beautifully produced to take its place as a special treasure on the shelves of Roy and Laurence lovers."

Books in Canada

“For admirers of Canadian writers in general and the work of Laurence and Roy in particular, this correspondence is invaluable.”

Canadian Literature

Other titles by Margaret Laurence

Other titles by Gabrielle Roy

Other titles by Paul G. Socken