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History General

Purple Springs

by (author) Nellie Lillian McClung

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Apr 1992
General, Canadian, Women Authors
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 1992
    List Price

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The third of Nellie McClung's four novels, Purple Springs (1921) completes the story of Pearlie Watson, the oldest child of shanty Irish immigrants settled in southwest Manitboa. Peral - now a country schoolteacher - has learned that the pain and suffering of the world is ingrained in structures which are not easily or effectively swayed by 'the art of being kind.'

Purple Springs fictionally extends many of the arguments made by McClung in In Times Like These regarding 'male statecraft,' graphically illustrating the consequences through her characters. McClung skilfully weaves together these social critiques in a tale of love, vocation, and coming-of-age, which sees Pearl, as a prototypical McClung, take on the corrupt Conservative government of Manitoba - and win. McClung's own triumph in the 'Women's Parliament' held in Winnipeg's Walker Theatre in 1914 is here dramatically and delightfully recreated with Pearl Watson as the premier, in a speech taken virtually verbatim from McClung's own.

Purple Springs explores an important piece of Canadian social history. It invites its readers to enter imaginatively an earlier age when women were second-class citizens in law as well as custom, and gives at least one woman's view of what needed to be done to right that injustice.

Originally published by Thomas Allen, 1921.

About the author

Nellie McClung was an activist: prominent campaigner in the successful drives for female suffrage in Manitoba and Alberta, a nationally known feminist and social reformer, the only woman at the Canadian War Conference of 1918, and MLA in Alberta, the first woman member of the CBC's Board of Governors, and in 1938 a Canadian delegate to the League of Nations.

Nellie Lillian McClung's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"With anger, satire and humour and compassion, the author documents and condemns a worldview in which women were not considered persons.'

Canadian Book Review Annual

'The recent re-release of Nellie McClung's Purple Springs (1921) is welcome on several accounts. First, it makes accessible one work by a writer whose fiction has been largely ignored. Next, the inclusion of an introduction serves to focus some much needed critical attention on McClung, an important figure in Canadian literature and politics.'

Resources for Feminist Research

Other titles by Nellie Lillian McClung