When W.O. Mitchell died in February of 1998, millions mourned his passing. Our loss was the lead item on the national news, many newspaper obituaries ran for a full page, and as an extraordinary mark of respect, flags outside government offices across the land flew at half-mast.
The man they mourned – and everyone in the Canadian book world whose life he had touched was personally saddened – was known above all as the author of Who Has Seen the Wind. And this edition – containing the full text – marrying W.O. Mitchell’s text with the art of William Kurelek, has established itself as a classic.
Since its publication in 1947, Who Has Seen the Wind has established itself in the hearts and minds of millions as a Canadian classic. The reasons for the book’s classic status are not hard to find. As readers enter the world of four-year-old Brian O’Connal and his family and friends, they find characters that radiate life so convincingly that the book has a life of its own. No ordinary simple novel, it is the ageless story of childhood told with tenderness and humour and without sentimentality, and the picture of a small town anywhere, drawn with realism and understanding.
This handsome edition marries W.O. Michell’s prose with the inspired illustrations of one of Canada’s finest and most popular artists, the late William Kurelek. The 8 full-colour paintings he produced, like the 32 black-and-white sketches that adorn the first page of every chapter, all come specifically from the text, and are illustrations in the very best sense. This edition is a collector's piece, a beautiful book that is also a joy to read, again and again.
W.O. MITCHELL was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, in 1914. He studied at the University of Manitoba and lived in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, until he and his wife, Merna, subsequently moved to Calgary, where he would remain for the rest of his life. During a very varied career, Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Maclean’s, to a gifted teacher and writing instructor. His best-loved book, Who Has Seen the Wind, was hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood, and complementing that book was his 1981 bestseller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel. Mitchell penned a number of other bestsellers, including Since Daisy Creek (1984), Ladybug, Ladybug. . . (1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art’s Sake (1992), and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993), which was illustrated by Wesley W. Bates.
Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), Mitchell was also noted for his two collections of short stories: Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). He was also a successful playwright, whose five plays are included in the collection entitled Dramatic W.O. Mitchell. Among his many awards were the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, awarded for his short story collections. Mitchell was also made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973 and awarded the Writers Guild of Alberta Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1994.
W.O. Mitchell died in February 1998 at his home in Calgary.
“One of the finest Canadian novels ever written.”
–Globe and Mail
“Mitchell…has so thoroughly captured the feeling of Canada and the Canadian people that we feel repeated shock of recognition as we read.”