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Canadian literature, English

The Canadian Novel

The first Canadian novelist of note was John Richardson, whose Wacousta (1832) popularized the genre of the national historical novel. With The Clockmaker (1836) T. C. Haliburton began his humorous series on Sam Slick, the Yankee peddler. Historical novelists writing c.1900 included William Kirby, author of The Golden Dog (1877), and Sir Gilbert Parker, author of The Seats of the Mighty (1896). The novels of Sara Jeannette Duncan, such as A Social Departure (1890), were noted for their satire and humor. The Rev. C. W. Gordon (Ralph Connor) produced Black Rock (1898), a series of novels on pioneer life in W Canada. Animal stories became popular in the works of Ernest Thompson Seton, Sir C. G. D. Roberts, and Margaret Marshall Saunders.

Since 1900, Canadian novels have tended toward stricter realism, but have remained predominantly regional, and many writers have been women. Among the most prominent authors have been Lucy M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables (1908); Mazo de la Roche, well known for her series on the Whiteoaks family of Jalna; Frederick P. Grove, author of Settlers of the Marsh (1925), a novel of farm life; and Laura Salverson and Nellie McClung, novelists of immigrant and rural life in W Canada.

Margaret Atwood is probably the best-known modern Canadian author. Other important novelists during and after World War II include Morley Callaghan, Gwethalyn Graham, John Buell, Hugh MacLennan, Mordecai Richler, Malcolm Lowry, Ethel Wilson, Robertson Davies, Brian Moore, Margaret Laurence, Timothy Findlay, Neil Bissoondath, and M. G. Vassanji. Many of their novels have focused attention on Canadian city life, social problems, and the large problem of Canadian cultural division.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: English Canadian Literature


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