Time to confess that I love lists like this, and despite the fact that of course they are all their own publications, I bet you find some on here that you may have read in blissful ignorance that the writers were Canadian. I've read a meagre 11 and have another 7 waiting, must do better.
Here's a useful book to have to hand.Survival by Margaret Atwood makes for informative background reading.
Also interesting to see from the article, that the world over, the same publishing dilemmas exist and contained therein yet more reasons to read Margaret Laurence's The Stone Angel if you still haven't been persuaded.Margaret Laurence spoke with one of the truest, most realistic and honest voices I've read in an age.
McClelland & Stewart marks 100 years of book publishing
|CanWest News Service|
OTTAWA -- Margaret Laurence's novel The Stone Angel is often labelled the best novel ever produced by a Canadian. So, any ephemera from the creation of that story about cranky old Hagar comprise the literary world's version of splinters from the cross.
Some of those relics from The Stone Angel are part of a new exhibition at Library and Archives Canada celebrating the 100th anniversary of McClelland & Stewart, the Toronto publishing firm that gave us this and many other literary masterpieces.
There is, for example, a letter typed by Laurence Sept. 16, 1963 and sent to
Jack McClelland, the late company president who helped make such authors and
poets as Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Irving Layton, Leonard Cohen and Farley
Mowat into household words and cultural icons.
Laurence's letter discusses what to call her forthcoming novel, whose working title was "Hagar." Various names were being batted about, including "Mrs. Shipley" and "Old Lady Shipley." Laurence disliked them all.
"As I was brooding about this question, another title occurred to me and now it seems to me that it was so clearly meant to be the title of this novel that I am astonished I did not think of it before," Laurence wrote. "It is The Stone Angel. I wonder what you think of it?" Laurence fans will undoubtedly get goosebumps reading that letter in a display case in the exhibition.
Their heart will beat even faster upon spying the document nearby. It is
Laurence's original typescript of the opening page of The Stone Angel, complete
with hand-written corrections and changes...
Lucy Maud Montgomery souvenirs pop up here and there.
The exhibition is truly a history of Canada's literary triumphs in the 20th century. The history of M&S is, indeed, a history of Canadian literature.
M&S executives won't go as far as saying they invented Canadian literature. But almost...
The public tends to follow news about M&S closely. The company is often considered an integral part of Canadian culture, akin to such Crown corporations as CBC or National Film Board or private concerns such as Eaton's or Hudson's Bay Co. Well, the future of the CBC often seems uncertain, the film board's profile has been steadily sinking, Eaton's is dead and The Bay is American. So, what's in store for M&S in the next 100 years? Pepper says M&S is no longer "the only game in town" for publishing Canadian authors. Random House, a major international force, is both a partner and a competitor. There's the Vancouver based Raincoast Books snapping at the heels of the Toronto establishment and a host of small regional presses chasing Canadian talent...
M&S simply has to work harder now than even 20 years ago when Jack McClelland had no problems to corral a Mavis Gallant or Pierre Berton. As well, Pepper says, the company must concentrate more on obtaining world rights to Canadian books and then clinching deals in lucrative markets like Britain, the U.S., and Germany.
a gamble, Pepper says...