Public Release: 

Popular Canadian writing born in US, says scholar

University of Toronto

Canadian fiction and non-fiction were not born in Toronto or some other large Canadian centre but, rather, in New York City, says University of Toronto English professor Nick Mount.

By 1901, only 56 people in Canada identified themselves as writers because a "shocking number had left for New York and, to a lesser degree, London," he says. Mount is studying the relationship between American writers and those writers who left Canada in the 19th century. "Most scholars are aware that many Canadian writers such as Ernest Thompson Seton, Sophie Almon Hensley and Palmer Cox had to leave Canada to make their fortunes. However, no one has examined the historical and social consequences of having all these Canadian writers in one place [New York]," Mount says.

This exodus of talent resulted in expatriate communities that formed in New York's pubs, rooming houses and publishing outlets, he says. These gatherings helped to promote and provide public exposure to those writers still living in Canada. "Many Canadians started to get published in American magazines through the efforts of these expatriates," Mount says in a forthcoming book. "Also, these expatriate writers proved to those still in Canada that it was possible to make a living from books, poetry and magazine articles." Mount's research is partially funded through grants from the Killam and Connaught Foundations.

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CONTACT: Professor Nick Mount, Department of English, 416-946-3144, nick.mount@utoronto.ca or Michah Rynor, U of T public affairs, 416-978-2104, michah.rynor@utoronto.ca

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