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Alice Ann Munro ( July 1931 – May 2024)

Alice Ann Munro ( July 1931 – 13 May 2024) was a Canadian short story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. Her work is said to have revolutionized the architecture of the short story, especially in its tendency to move forward and backward in time, and with integrated short fiction cycles.

Munro's fiction is most often set in her native Huron County in southwestern Ontario. Her stories explore human complexities in an uncomplicated prose style. Her writing established her reputation as a great author in the vein of Anton Chekhov.

Munro received the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 for her lifetime body of work. She was also a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for Fiction, and received the Writers' Trust of Canada's 1996 Marian Engel Award and the 2004 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Runaway. She mostly stopped writing around 2013 and died at her home in 2024.
Early life and education
The Vancouver Sun article with photo of Munro and her daughters

Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw in Wingham, Ontario. Her father, Robert Eric Laidlaw, was a fox and mink farmer,[1] and later turned to turkey farming.[2] Her mother, Anne Clarke Laidlaw (née Chamney), was a schoolteacher. She was of Irish and Scottish descent; her father was a descendant of Scottish poet James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd.[3]

Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow", in 1950 while studying English and journalism at the University of Western Ontario on a two-year scholarship.[4][5] During this period she worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker, and a library clerk.[6][7] In 1951, she left the university, where she had been majoring in English since 1949,[6] to marry fellow student James Munro.[8] They moved to Dundarave, West Vancouver, for James's job in a department store. In 1963, the couple moved to Victoria, where they opened Munro's Books, which still operates.[9]

She had three children with James Munro (one died shortly after birth),[10] and when the children were still young she would attempt to write whenever she could; her husband encouraging her by sending he into the book shop while he looked after the children and cooked.[11] In 1961, after she had had a few stories published in small magazines, the Vancouver Sun ran a brief article on her, titled "Housewife Finds Time to Write Short Stories", and called her the "least praised good writer".[12] She found it difficult, even with her husband's help, to find the time among "the pile up of unavoidable household jobs" to write, and found it easier to concentrate on short stories, rather than the novels her publisher wanted her to write.[13][14]

Munro's highly acclaimed first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), won the Governor General's Award, then Canada's highest literary prize.[15] That success was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a collection of interlinked stories. In 1978, Munro's collection of interlinked stories Who Do You Think You Are? was published. This book earned Munro a second Governor General's Literary Award[16] and was short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1980 under its international title, The Beggar Maid.[17]

From 1979 to 1982, Munro toured Australia, China and Scandinavia for public appearances and readings.[18] In 1980, she held the position of writer in residence at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland.[19]

From the 1980s to 2012, Munro published a short story collection at least once every four years. First versions of Munro's stories appeared in journals such as The Atlantic Monthly, Grand Street, Harper's Magazine, Mademoiselle, The New Yorker, Narrative Magazine, and The Paris Review. Her collections have been translated into 13 languages.[20] In 2013, Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, cited as a "master of the contemporary short story".[21][22][23] She was the first Canadian and the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.[24]

Munro had a longtime association with editor and publisher Douglas Gibson.[25] When Gibson left Macmillan of Canada in 1986 to launch the Douglas Gibson Books imprint at McClelland and Stewart, Munro returned the advance Macmillan had paid her for The Progress of Love so that she could follow Gibson to the new company.[26] When Gibson published his memoirs in 2011, Munro wrote the introduction, and Gibson often made public appearances on Munro's behalf when her health prevented her from appearing personally.[27]

Almost twenty of Munro's works have been made available for free on the web, in most cases only the first versions.[28] From the period before 2003, 16 stories have been included in Munro's own compilations more than twice, with two of her works scoring four republications: "Carried Away" and "Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage".[29]

Film adaptations of Munro's short stories include Martha, Ruth and Edie (1988), Edge of Madness (2002), Away from Her (2006), Hateship, Loveship (2013) and Julieta (2016).[30][31]

Sandra P    5/19/2024


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