Despite her trailblazing efforts to represent the work of Canadian writers to publishers in North America and abroad, Doris Hedges (1896-1972), the Montreal author who started Canada's first literary agency in 1946, is routinely excluded from Canadian literary histories. In Who Was Doris Hedges? Robert Lecker provides a detailed account of her remarkable career. Hedges published several novels, short stories, and books of poetry, moved in Montreal literary circles, did a stint as a radio broadcaster, and provided reports to the Wartime Information Board during the Second World War, possibly as an American spy. She lived a privileged life in the Golden Square Mile district of downtown Montreal with her husband, Geoffrey Hedges, a member of the Benson and Hedges tobacco empire. The more one uncovers about Hedges's life, the more one discovers a courageous figure who was exploring many of the conflicted issues of her day: the rise of juvenile delinquency, the suppression of female sexuality, the place of women in business and finance, and the difficulties confronting the publishing industry in the years leading up to and following the war. Mixing lively biographical commentary with literary analysis, Who Was Doris Hedges? is a vivid account of a writer's life and concerns during a period when Canada's literature was coming of age.
"Lecker's deep knowledge of the history of Canada's publishing industry and his keen curiosity allows him a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era of Canadian writing and of Anglo Montreal life. This thoroughly researched and well-written book includes a wealth of information about the economic conditions under which writers, agents, and publishers labored in at the time." Patrick Coleman, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Equivocal City: French and English Novels of Postwar Montreal
"Who Was Doris Hedges? takes a fresh approach to the literary, cultural, political debates and conditions of the mid-twentieth century in Canada, from the perspective of a figure who has barely been preserved in the literary archive. Hedges is worth preserving and thinking about because her career charts the narrative of a woman striving to establish herself within the English-Canadian literary culture and marketplace." Lorraine York, McMaster University, and author of Reluctant Celebrity: Affect and Privilege in Contemporary Stardom