George Woodcock—the prolific literary critic, poet, radio dramatist, historian, and social theorist—developed distinct literary reputations in Canada and abroad. His many works were issued by a great variety of Canadian and foreign publishers.
The documents pertaining to Isabella Valancy Crawford’s short life and publishing career are incomplete, cryptic, and discordant, at best: some of her manuscripts were barely salvaged from use as fire kindling. Like many poets of her time, Crawford struggled to publish in Canada. Following her death, correspondence between advocates and editors of her work illuminate the cost and ambiguity of copyright at the turn of the century.
J. Macdonald Oxley was one of the best known Canadian authors of his time, but few people today have heard of Bert Lloyd’s Boyhood. In his diary we learn that it was reviewed in 15 periodicals and newspapers upon its publication in 1889, and that he was paid $175 for it by his American publisher.
As editor of Grip magazine, J.W. Bengough made a lasting contribution to Canadian publishing. A pioneer of the editorial cartoon, he demonstrated that such images could be serious while simultaneously exuding playfulness, irony, and satiric charm.
Penning a tribute to publisher Jack McClelland, Leonard Cohen wrote: “You were the real Prime Minister of Canada.” His words were not merely poetic: he knew, as did hundreds of other Canadian writers, that McClelland had nurtured, cajoled, soothed, and at times infuriated them, in order to bring their books to readers across the country and around the world, at times taking great financial risks to do so. In a career that spanned over forty years, McClelland’s author roster crossed boundaries of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, political writing, and textbooks, and included Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Pierre Berton, Austin Clarke, Matt Cohen, Marian Engel, Basil Johnston, Irving Layton, Margaret Laurence, Farley Mowat, Peter Newman, Mordecai Richler, and Gabrielle Roy. As biographer James King noted. “He is our Prospero, the man who shared his love of books with his fellow countrymen.”
Like many nineteenth- and early twentieth-century newspapers, the Collingwood Bulletin played a major role in its community, providing information to residents, advertising commercial enterprises and social events, and weathering challenges from competitors. Its significance is documented within the pages of the newspaper itself, as well as in articles and notices in the trade journal Canadian Printer and Publisher, and in a unique scrapbook filled with examples of the job printing that emanated from the presses of the Bulletin. Stationery, concert programs, handbills, church announcements, and other intriguing items tell their own tales of a bustling Ontario town and reveal much about the technological capabilities of the newspaper’s print shop.
After publishing her first seven books with a U.S. publisher, L.M. Montgomery placed her career in the hands of McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, whom she appointed her Canadian publishers and her literary agents. This case study looks at the ways in which Montgomery may have used the success of her best-known character, Anne of Green Gables, in an attempt to get her poetry published in book form.
Longtime Ryerson Press Editor Lorne Pierce (1890-1961) was driven by cultural nationalism as a publisher. His battle with anti-Communist crusader Watson Kirkconnell over the alleged Communist sympathies of Vera Lysenko’s Men in Sheepskin Coats: A Study in Assimilation (1947), a history of Ukrainian Canadians published by Ryerson, shows Pierce strongly resisting a publishing industry instance of “Red scare” witch-hunting during the Cold War climate which followed the defection of Russian cypher clerk Igor Gouzenko in Ottawa in 1945.
William Wilfred Campbell, lover of Empire and instigator of the “War Among the Poets,” earned his living not by his pen but as a civil servant in Ottawa. While studying divinity in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he launched his literary career with the help of Oliver Wendell Holmes.