Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Language Arts & Disciplines Publishing

New Canadian Library

The Ross-McClelland Years, 1952-1978

by (author) Janet Friskney

University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
Initial publish date
Apr 2015
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Dec 2007
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2015
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


In the mid-1950s, much Canadian literature was out of print, making it relatively inaccessible to readers, including those studying the subject in schools and universities. When English professor Malcolm Ross approached Toronto publisher Jack McClelland in 1952 to propose a Canadian literary reprint series, it was still the accepted wisdom among publishers that Canadian literature was of insufficient interest to the educational market to merit any great publishing risks. Eventually convinced by Ross that a latent market for Canadian literary reprints did indeed exist, McClelland & Stewart launched the New Canadian Library (NCL) series in 1958, with Ross as its general editor. In 2008, the NCL will celebrate a half-century of publication.

In New Canadian Library, Janet B. Friskney takes the reader through the early history of the NCL series, focusing on the period up to 1978 when Malcolm Ross retired as general editor. A wealth of archival resources, published reviews, and the NCL volumes themselves are used to survey the working relationship between Ross and McClelland, as well as the collaborative participation of those who, through the middle decades of the twentieth century, were committed to studying and nurturing Canada's literary heritage. To place the New Canadian Library in its proper historical context, Friskney examines the simultaneous development of Canadian literary studies as a legitimate area of research and teaching in academe and acknowledges the NCL as a milestone in Canadian publishing history.

About the author

Janet B. Friskney is an independent scholar living in the Toronto area.

Janet Friskney's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Friskney’s New Canadian Library is a rich and readable book, thoroughly researched, effectively organized, and clearly written.”


“Whether readers are interested in the development of English-Canadian literature, the postwar book trade, or Canadian culture generally, Friskney’s account opens new perspectives on transformative decades.”

Canadian Literature

“Using an impressive range of archival material from libraries across Canada, as well as interviews and correspondence with key figures in the [New Canadian Library] story ... Friskney analyses the history and significance of the NCL.”

Papers of the Bibliographical Society of Canada

“[New Canadian Library] should adorn the bookshelves of anyone who wishes to understand how Canadian literature became established in our country.”

Books in Canada