In the two novellas that make up The Equations of Love, Ethel Wilson describes ordinary people in perilous circumstances with extraordinary insight and compassion. “Tuesday and Wednesday” reconstructs the events of two days in the life of Mort and Myrtle Johnson, whose uninspired marriage is strangely transformed by the tragic intervention of fate. “Lilly’s Story” is the study of a woman who, protecting her daughter, invents a new identity for herself, only to live as a fugitive from her own happiness.
Fist published in 1952, these intuitive and richly ironic stories reveal the unspoken longings and surprising motives that balance the equations of love.
Ethel Wilson was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in 1888. She was taken to England at the age of two after her mother died. Seven years later her father died, and in 1898 she came to Vancouver to live with her maternal grandmother. She received her teacher’s certificate from the Vancouver Normal School in 1907 and taught in many local elementary schools until her marriage in 1921.
In the 1930s Wilson published a few short stories and began a series of family reminiscences which were later transformed into The Innocent Traveller. Her first published novel, Hetty Dorval, appeared in 1947, and her fiction career ended fourteen years later with the publication of her story collection, Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories. Through her compassionate and often ironic narration, Wilson explores in her fiction the moral lives of her characters.
For her contribution to Canadian literature, Wilson was awarded the Canada Council Medal in 1961 and the Lorne Pierce Medal of the Royal Society of Canada in 1964. Her husband died in 1966, and she spent her later years in seclusion and ill-health.
Ethel Wilson died in Vancouver in 1980.