Considered one of the finest of Canada’s early poets, the raw intellect and emotional appeal of Isabella Valancy Crawford’s poetry drew author Elizabeth McNeill Galvin on a personal journey that traced Isabella’s life which began in Dublin, Ireland, and ended in Toronto, Canada.
Isabella emigrated to Canada with her family around the year of 1858. After settling first in Paisley, Ontario, the family later lived in Lakefield and Peterborough. As a young woman, Isabella became fascinated by backwoods life and Indian legends. Following her father’s death, she and her mother moved to Toronto where Isabella took on another pioneering role, that of a "modern working woman," by earning meager wages from light verse and "formula fiction" that appeared in Canadian and American newspapers.
Not afraid to approach social criticism often deemed the domain of male poets, her poetic sensitivity quivers with imagery and is admired for its evocative portrayal of life in its entirety. Isabella’s work symbolizes the emerging of Canadian maturity as its population was shifting from life in the wilderness, to the creation of urban centres such as Toronto.
"A good sense of the social background of Crawford’s life."
- Gordon Johnston, Master of Otonabee College at Trent University and Professor of Canadian Literature.