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Literary Collections Letters

Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters

edited by Laura K. Davis & Linda M. Morra

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
May 2018
Letters, Canadian, Canadian
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

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Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland—one of Canada’s most beloved writers and one of Canada’s most significant publishers—enjoyed an unusual rapport. In this collection of annotated letters, readers gain rare insight into the private side of these literary icons. Their correspondence reveals a professional relationship that evolved into deep friendship over a period of enormous cultural change. Both were committed to the idea of Canadian writing; in a very real sense, their mutual and separate work helped bring “Canadian Literature” into being. With its insider’s view of the book business from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters presents a valuable piece of Canadian literary history curated and annotated by Davis and Morra. This is essential reading for all those interested in Canada’s literary culture.

About the authors

Laura K. Davis teaches and researches in the areas of Canadian literature and writing studies at Red Deer College, Alberta. She has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Alberta, has published articles and reviews on Canadian literature, and is a co-author of the textbook, Essay Writing for Canadian Students, with Readings.

Laura K. Davis' profile page

Linda M. Morra, an associate professor at Bishopâ??s University, specializes in Canadian literature and Canadian studies. Her research focuses on women and the publishing industry in Canada. Her publications include Corresponding Influence: Selected Letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth (2006), [ Troubling Tricksters: Revisioning Critical Conversations (co-editor with Deanna Reder, WLU Press, 2010), and an edition of Jane Ruleâ??s autobiography, Taking My Life (2011).

Jessica Schagerlâ??s research focuses on Canadian studies, drawing heavily on archival material; she is also invested in questions of professional concern, including mentoring and the futures of arts and humanities. She is the alumni and development officer for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Western Ontario.

Linda M. Morra's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"One of the most important writers at McClelland & Stewart in the house's heyday, [Margaret] Laurence formed a bond with flamboyant publisher Jack McClelland. The 400 or so letters that passed between them show a deep mutual respect and offer up many insights into writing and publishing in Canada.... [The book] exposes a great deal about Laurence's craft, her difficulties with censorship, and McClelland's commercial ups and downs.... The letters themselves are revealing and frequently fascinating."

Quill & Quire

"Few epistolary volumes have as strong a claim to true importance as Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland.... More than that, though, the book captures several generations, offering a broad look at copyright, the changing technology of publishers, political discontent in Canada, the burgeoning national literary scene, general readers’ and reviewers’ conservatism,... and writers’ creative process.... [A] major achievement of this book is its insight into Laurence as a major cog in the wheels of Canada’s publishing and arts scenes...."

Jeffrey Aaron Weingarten

"For scholars, this volume offers a wealth of insight into Canadian publishing history and into Laurence’s creative practice. The annotations and introduction, though of somewhat uneven quality, are nevertheless thoughtful and richly informative. These entertaining letters tell an absorbing story about the development of Canadian literary culture, as well as about the relationship of two extraordinary individuals."

Faye Hammill, The Times Literary Supplement

"A glimpse into a warm friendship and mutually beneficial business relationship."

Sarah Murdoch

"The letters themselves are superb....What is perhaps most compelling in the Laurence-McClelland correspondence is their ability to get furiously angry at each other—and then use that anger to affirm their loyalty and appreciation of each other's passionate commitment to Canadian literature."

Frances W. Kaye

"[Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters] documents the era through the warm, nostalgic filter of private letters between one of the country’s most acclaimed novelists and her publisher. It is a sweet book, funny and angry by turn, and a delight to read." [Full review at]

Blacklock's Reporter

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