Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Biography & Autobiography Literary

Tiff

A Life of Timothy Findley

by (author) Sherrill Grace

Publisher
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
Initial publish date
Aug 2020
Category
Literary, Gay Studies, Canadian
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9781771124539
    Publish Date
    Aug 2020
    List Price
    $39.99
  • eBook

    ISBN
    9781771124553
    Publish Date
    Aug 2020
    List Price
    $19.99
  • Downloadable audio file

    ISBN
    9781771125246
    Publish Date
    Jun 2021
    List Price
    $44.99

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it

Description

Timothy Findley (1930-2002) was one of Canada’s foremost writers—an award-winning novelist, playwright, and short-story writer who began his career as an actor in London, England. Findley was instrumental in the development of Canadian literature and publishing in the 1970s and 80s.

During those years, he became a vocal advocate for human rights and the anti-war movement. His writing and interviews reveal a man concerned with the state of the world, a man who believed in the importance of not giving in to despair, despite his constant struggle with depression. Findley believed in the power of imagination and creativity to save us.

Tiff: A Life of Timothy Findley is the first full biography of this eminent Canadian writer. Sherrill Grace provides insight into Findley’s life and struggles through an exploration of his private journals and his relationships with family, his beloved partner, Bill Whitehead, and his close friends, including Alec Guinness, William Hutt, and Margaret Laurence. Based on many interviews and exhaustive archival research, this biography explores Findley’s life and work, the issues that consumed him, and his often profound depression over the evils of the twentieth-century. Shining through his darkness are Findley’s generous humour, his unforgettable characters, and his hope for the future. These qualities inform canonic works like The Wars (1977), Famous Last Words (1981), Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984), and The Piano Man’s Daughter (1995).

About the author

Sherrill Grace
Sherrill Grace is a professor of English and theatre at the University of British Columbia. She is former President, Academy I, of the Royal Society of Canada. She has lectured widely in North America, as well as in Germany, Italy, England, Belgium, France, China and Japan.

A member of several professional associations, including the Association of Canadian Studies, the Canadian Association of American Studies, the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, the Canadian Comparative Literature Association, the Modern Languages Association and the International Association of Professors of English, Grace was awarded the prestigious Killam Teaching Prize in 2008, and in 2009 she received the Ann Saddlemyer Award for her biography Making Theatre: A Life of Sharon Pollock.

Sherrill Grace's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“I was first drawn to Timothy Findley as a brilliant novelist, but over time I was privileged to know the man behind the novels. Despite a writer’s need for solitude, he was extraordinarily generous with his time and insight, and had a true talent for friendship and mentorship, qualities that shine through in this remarkable biography. Taking a cue from Tiff himself, Sherrill Grace never allows her meticulous research to overshadow the story of an extraordinarily engrossing, multi-faceted life.” – Sylvia Tyson, singer/songwriter, author of Joyner's Dream

Sylvia Tyson

"What a spectacular achievement! In “an ecstasy of exploration,” to use Sherrill Grace’s lovely description of Findley’s dogs criss-crossing a frozen river, one of Canada’s leading critics has created a definitive biography of a giant in Canadian literature. “We are what we keep” is the mantra informing her exhaustive attention to the details that shape and reflect the turbulent life of Timothy Findley or Tiff, as he was generally known. Sherrill Grace illuminates the private personal past that Findley’s fiction transforms into an urgent and unforgetable presence, like Chekhovian wildflowers in a stone orchard. Her version of a man sometimes obscured by his memories brings him to life and makes the fiction indelibly real." -- John Moss, author of A Reader’s Guide to the Canadian Novel

John Moss

“Tiff is a biography of becoming. Timothy Findley was a writer, but one who arrived at the vocation by way of the stage, a storyteller who shifted from the speaking of others’ words to the crafting of his own. Sherrill Grace brings thoughtful attention to both the man and the work, the latter of which notably marked the national literature by its particular obsessions and inventions.” – Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Homecoming

Andrew Pyper

"What a spectacular achievement! In “an ecstasy of exploration,” to use Sherrill Grace’s lovely description of Findley’s dogs criss-crossing a frozen river, one of Canada’s leading critics has created a definitive biography of a giant in Canadian literature. “We are what we keep” is the mantra informing her exhaustive attention to the details that shape and reflect the turbulent life of Timothy Findley or Tiff, as he was generally known. Sherrill Grace illuminates the private personal past that Findley’s fiction transforms into an urgent and unforgetable presence, like Chekhovian wildflowers in a stone orchard. Her version of a man sometimes obscured by his memories brings him to life and makes the fiction indelibly real." -- John Moss, author of A Reader’s Guide to the Canadian Novel

Christl Verduyn

" superb ... Written with great sensitivity and attention to detail, Grace’s comprehensive biography succeeds in giving a complete picture of its subject as an individual and an artist."

Publishers Weekly

Sherrill Grace’s meticulously researched biography accesses “Tiff’s” extensive personal diaries and dozens of interviews to reveal the stories behind the Timothy Findley we thought we knew. One of Canada’s most perceptive literary scholars, Grace explores the genesis of Findley’s writing, provides astute analyses of all his fiction, and an illuminating, long overdue reassessment of Findley’s acting and playwriting. She traces his personal and artistic friendships with some of the giants of twentieth century culture, from Margaret Atwood to Sir Alec Guinness, and unpacks the complex family history that inspired the work and troubled the man: his loves and hates, his obsessions and neuroses. Findley emerges as not just a great novelist but a talented, dedicated man of the theatre, passionate human rights crusader, and fierce advocate of Canadian arts who went to war against war, political ruthlessness, homophobia and personal betrayal. A powerful, eye-opening portrait of the artist as an anguished man who tried desperately to live by his motto: Against despair. — Emeritus Professor of English and Theatre, UBC, editor of Modern Canadian Plays

Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia

"A meticulously researched deep dive into a troubled and fascinating life—passionate, engaged, often messy, vastly rewarding."

Twitter

“A tactful, sensitive, generous, storyteller, Sherrill Grace recounts the life of one of Canada’s greatest storytellers, illuminating his life and work, the people he knew and the cultural times in which he performed that life so passionately. We follow him as he learns his craft through writing and through living that intense, well-examined, if often tormented, life. At once learned and elegant, this immensely readable biography is a glorious summing up of all the themes of his work and life.” —Linda Hutcheon, University of Toronto, author of The Canadian Postmodern

Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia

Other titles by Sherrill Grace

Related blog posts