Ignored by Canadian publishers most of his life, poet Bliss Carman's career is a case study in the vicissitudes of North American literary publishing in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, and the need to leave Canada in order to pursue such a life.
Subscription publishing is a method of bookselling in which publishers, authors, and book agents used advertisements, sample books, and other promotional materials, to solicit subscribers in advance of publication, to avoid financial loss. A well-known example is Canadian Wild Flowers (Montreal, 1868), for which Agnes Fitzgibbon enlisted 400 subscribers. From c. 1870 to 1910, companies used various persuasive techniques to enlist book agents, and subscription publishing flourished in Canada. Bradley-Garretson, of Brantford and Toronto, Ontario, was one such publisher, and purported to have “two to three thousand” agents working across Canada in the mid-1880s.
Brita Mickleburgh (d. 2008) was a trailblazer in teaching Canadian literature in Canadian high schools. Odd as it may seem now, before 1970 she and most of her colleagues “had been teaching English not as a second language, but for all practical purposes as a foreign language”, using texts from Great Britain, Ireland and the United States.
Since its inception in 2002, the “Canada Reads” competition has become a major initiative of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The contest, which pairs five notable Canadians with the Canadian novels that they propose for the prize, has grown in popularity and in media coverage over the years, and has had appreciable effects on sales of the nominated books. This study demonstrates how a document in Margaret Atwood’s archival papers, regarding the 2005 nomination of her book, Oryx and Crake, reveals much about publishing and the media, and particularly illustrates how integrated media enterprises approach book promotion.
Great biographical depth emerges from contemporary character sketches. For an excellent narrative of the life of George Maclean Rose (1829-98), one need to look no further than A Cyclopaedia of Canadian Biography Being Chiefly Men of the Time (1888), a compendium he himself edited. It provides us with one of the best accounts to that date of Rose’s life, and that of his brother Daniel, at the height of their publishing activities. But a surprising resource, a cashbook for the Rose Publishing Company, presents particular details of their lives that complement or even surpass the portraits drawn in published biographies. Across the many accounts, the cashbook offers a highly personal record of the activities and interests of George and Daniel Rose.
Amidst the great leaders of Macmillan of Canada in the latter half of the twentieth century stood Gladys Neale — a female visionary thriving in a male dominated industry, who became one of the most respected educational publishers in Canada. Despite facing challenges and discrimination, Neale stormed her way through the business of educational publishing, leaving a lasting legacy as a great publisher, literacy advocate, and staunch supporter of Canadian publications and authors. This study includes an audio interview with Neale, conducted by Roy MacSkimming for his book, The Perilous Trade.
From the banning of Molière in seventeenth-century Quebec to the challenges faced by Margaret Laurence for her novel The Diviners beginning in the 1970s, censorship has been a thorn in the side of Canada’s literary and publishing history. Government officials, customs agents, the church, the religious right, and arbiters of “social correctness” have played a major role in enforcing and influencing regulations regarding censorship. Their actions have led to the establishment, by authors, publishers, librarians, and citizens, of numerous groups and events designed to highlight the democratic rights of Canadians to buy and read books and magazines of their choice
Though there has been recent interest in Chatelaine magazine’s role in second wave feminism in Canada, much work needs to be done on its place in Canadian women’s lives in the early years of its publication.
Founded during the early years of the Depression, Clarke, Irwin & Company was a major publisher for over 50 years. One of the company founders, Irene Irwin Clarke, would become its president and general manager in 1955, earning the title “the first lady of the publishing industry.” The firm focused on quality educational materials for Canadian schools, but also published such authors as Robertson Davies, Marian Engel, Adele Wiseman, and Timothy Findley, several poets, including Alden Nowlan, and the writings of artists Emily Carr and A.Y. Jackson.
As C.P. Snow's "two cultures" pointed out, we are accustomed to thinking of the arts and humanities as being somehow removed from or even opposed to science and technology. But a closer look at actual cases often shows a more complex and friendly relation; nowhere do we find a more interesting case than Coach House Press in Toronto, a tiny literary publisher and fine-art printing house that in the 1970s drove headlong into the digital era, finding the bleeding edge of digital technology, and anticipating by three or four decades the moves that their peers in the book industry are beginning to make only now.