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Fiction Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology

The Dreamer Awakes

by (author) Alice Kane

edited by Sean Kane

Broadview Press
Initial publish date
May 1995
Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Legends & Mythology
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 1995
    List Price

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The late Alice Kane was born in Ireland in 1908. Moving with her parents to Canada in 1921, she was educated in New Brunswick and at McGill University in Montreal before beginning a career with the Toronto Public Library, where she had a major interest in fairy tales. After her retirement in 1973, she taught Children’s Literature at the University of New Brunswick, then began a second career as a professional storyteller in association with the Storytellers School of Toronto. She was a featured performer at many storytelling events, including the American Storytelling Festival at Jonesborough, Tennessee. Her rich oral heritage is remembered in Songs and Sayings of and Ulster Childhood, edited by Edith Fowke (1983).

About the authors

Irish-born Alice Kane was an active Toronto storyteller for more than sixty years, first when she was a dynamic children’s librarian for the Toronto Public Library and later as a storyteller for adults across Canada and around the world. She was especially loved for her telling of Irish hero and wonder tales. Her voice had a musicality which enchanted audiences, and her love of the stories gave her telling a warmth which those who heard her remember well.

Alice Kane's profile page

George Johnston was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on October 7, 1913. Johnston knew early on that he wanted to be a writer, and published early poems (often comic-satiric), as well as newspaper columns, film reviews and plays, during his years at the University of Toronto's Victoria College, where he studied philosophy and English.

When war was declared, he joined the RCAF and served four and a half years, including thirteen months as a reconnaissance pilot in West Africa. He returned to Canada in 1944, married Jeanne McRae, and completed his MA at the University of Toronto. In between, he taught two years (1947-49) at Mount Allison University, and in 1950, having found teaching to his liking, accepted a post at Ottawa's Carleton University where, for twenty-nine years, he was a charismatic and much-loved professor of Old and Middle English and Old Norse. His first book of poems, The Cruising Auk, written during the war, was not published until 1959, when he was forty-six.

Sabbatical years were decisive in Johnston's life. During his first, 1956-57 at Dorking in Surrey, he met Peter Foote of the University of London, who taught him Old Norse, and began translating The Saga of Gisli in collaboration with him. A second sabbatical, in 1967-68, was spent in Denmark and included the discovery of modern Faroese poetry and the first of four visits the Johnstons made to the Faroe Islands. A last sabbatical, 1974-75, spent mostly in Gloucester, England, included a three-week visit to Iceland.

After The Cruising Auk, Johnston published four more poetry collections before the appearance of Endeared by Dark, his Collected Poems, in 1990. A man whose diverse interests included calligraphy, bell-ringing, wine-making and beekeeping, who kept up a wide correspondence and enjoyed reading the classics aloud with his wife, Johnston retired from Carleton in 1979. He died in August of 2004.

Sean Kane's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Alice Kane is the best storyteller I have heard, and her stories not only entertain but raise our hearts as if by magic. Now we can read them, an that is the next best thing to hearing them.” — Edith Fowke

Her Voice rises off the page as if she were telling the story beside us. It’s a tone that is oral in its cadences, yet at the same time unobtrusively literary — The voice of an enduring classic.” — Dennis Lee

“Alice Kane is the kind of artist who in countries like Japan would become a national treasure. She has taken the art of storytelling from children’s libraries and made it an art for everyone. She has become a one-woman elder for story lovers across Canada.” — Toronto Star

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