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McMaster’s Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing

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I’ve just stumbled upon a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the history of publishing in Canada. Created at McMaster University, my beloved alma mater, Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing is a web-based cornucopia of information, letters, essays, articles, photographs, and audio recordings about publishing in Canada. There are nearly 100 interesting case studies in the following different categories:

It really is a must-visit site if you’re interested in the world of publishing in Canada. My own editor Douglas Gibson figures prominently, and there are even scans of letters he’s sent off to one of his treasured authors, Alice Munro and a letter he received from another of his authors, the late, great Robertson Davies, one of my literary heroes. Doug had mentioned to me that he’d donated his papers to McMaster and clearly they are being put to good use.

In my travels within the site, I even found an article about Helen Humphreys by Kiley Kapuscinski that discusses her travails finding a publisher. Stephen Leacock‘s self-published but very successful 1910 book, Literary Lapses, was cited as an historical example of good works being overlooked by the publishers of the day. Then, I was quite surprised to find that I am actually mentioned in the article as a modern example of a writer who had faced challenges breaking in to the publishing world. I had no idea. Very cool. Here’s the brief excerpt:

McMaster Publishing Study graphic

2 responses to “McMaster’s Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing”

  1. Hi Terry: As a Mac Grad (Bio ’96), a writer about to start looking for a publisher for “The 29th Day” and a person who enjoys both novels & knowing about the process of writing, this is fascinating on so many levels. Margaret Laurence’s correspondence to her publisher regarding the banning of the Diviners in 1976 (which I read when I was in school, completely unaware of any controversy) is most interesting. Also, I never would have suspected that Margaret Atwood had a book that she couldn’t get published. Thanks for sharing this. Evadne.

  2. Terry Fallis says:

    I’m with you Evadne. I’ve found the site to be fascinating. I love reading the letters from authors and publishers. Very interesting.

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