Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Alice Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw, the eldest of three children of Robert Laidlaw and Anne Chamney, on July 10, 1931. The family lived in a nineteenth century brick farmhouse at the edge of Wingham, Ontario, the small town usually disguised in her fiction as Walley, Jubilee, or Hanratty. Munro’s father, a descendant of Scottish pioneers, raised silver foxes and, later, mink. For the first two grades, Munro attended the rough Lowertown School modeled in “Privilege” (1978), where she was the only child in her class to pass first grade. At her mother’s insistence, she was transferred to the Wingham public schools where, living in imagination and books, she felt even more isolated. She worked on an unfinished gothic novel during high school, influenced by Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847).
After World War II the popular demand for furs lessened, and eventually the fox farm failed; times were so hard that the Laidlaws had to burn sawdust for heat. In 1947 Robert Laidlaw took a job as night watchman at the local iron foundry, raising turkeys as a sideline. Anne Laidlaw, an elementary teacher of Irish descent, had been forced to abandon her career because married women were not allowed to teach. In her mid-forties she developed a devastating form of Parkinson’s disease contracted from the encephalitis virus. Munro had to do all the...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
One of the most impressive things about Munro’s fiction is that she is able to write about ordinary people and their problems with “an art that works to conceal itself.” Breaking nearly every rule of the traditional short story, she has transformed the genre. Her talent is widely respected, and her contemporaries praise her. Cynthia Ozick has compared her to a classic Russian author (“She is our Chekhov”), while Mona Simpson and Jonathan Franzen, among others, have suggested that Munro is worthy of a Nobel Prize. Munro has broken ground for subsequent generations of women writers by increasing an awareness of the whole of female experience, with clear vision, insight, and compassion.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Short Fiction, Second Revised Edition)
Alice Munro was born July 10, 1931, in Wingham, Ontario, Canada, where her father raised silver foxes. A scholarship covering the years 1949-1951 to the University of Western Ontario led to her bachelor’s degree in 1952. Her marriage to bookstore owner James Munro produced three daughters. After a 1976 divorce, Munro married geographer Gerald Fremlin; they established homes in Clinton, Ontario, and Comox, British Columbia.
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Alice Munro grew up in a small rural community in western Ontario. Her father spent most of his life raising fox for the commercial fur market, which resulted in a life of poverty or abundance, depending on the changing conditions of the foxes and the market. Her childhood was filled with struggling to belong to her peer group and always excelling at academics. Her intelligence won for her scholarships to high school and college, and poverty made her drop out of college after her second year. Fear of poverty enticed her to marry Jim Munro when she was twenty.
Munro spent her entire childhood believing that she could and would write a great novel. She began writing poetry at age twelve and always kept her work hidden from her mother and family. After her marriage, she continued to write in secret, believing the cultural dictates of the times that women were either wives and mothers or artists, not both. Munro’s work often deals, not surprisingly therefore, with the mother-child roles. Her parental characters are often composites of her own parents, grandparents, and other family members. Her descriptions of the town and countryside almost exactly recall the community of her youth.
Munro was able to publish several works a year while her children were growing up, and she became steadily more prolific. She uses the language of women talking about...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Born on July 10, 1931, in rural southwest Ontario, Canada, in the region east of Lake Huron, Alice Munro and her younger brother and sister were the children of Robert Eric Laidlaw, a farmer, and Anne Chamney Laidlaw, a former elementary school teacher turned homemaker. The family always seemed to be struggling financially. With the failure of his fox-farming business in 1948, Munro’s father became a night watchman in a local foundry and began raising turkeys in 1952. In 1943, when Munro was twelve, her mother began a long decline because of Parkinson’s disease, which led to her death sixteen years later.
Although her mother hoped that her daughter would escape their hometown of Wingham, Ontario, Munro’s future was expected to be that of a farmer’s wife. From the age of nine, however, she wanted to be an author. At fifteen she started writing, spending her school lunch hour composing stories while her classmates, who lived closer to the school, went home to eat. She finished a novel—a romantic, gothic work that later was stored in her father’s basement and eventually thrown out by her stepmother.
In 1949, she received a scholarship that enabled her to attend the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, where she majored in journalism, a more explainable choice, she thought, than writing. While an undergraduate, she published...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Alice Munro, writing about ordinary people in ordinary situations, creates a portrait of life in all of its complexities. In her richly textured stories, she explores the nuances of relationships, the depths of emotions, and the influence that one’s past has on the present. With a few details, she is able to evoke someone’s personality or an entire geographical region. She is a master at creating a short story that is as fully developed as a novel.
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Alice Munro is one of Canada’s best writers of short fiction. She was born to Robert Eric Laidlaw, a fox farmer, and his ailing but ambitious wife, Ann Chamney Laidlaw. In 1949 Munro left her birthplace of Wingham to attend the University of Western Ontario. In 1951 she married James Munro and moved to Vancouver, where she and her husband had two daughters. In 1963 the couple moved to Victoria, British Columbia, and in 1966 they had a third child, another daughter.
From her youth, Munro had been writing stories. Her early efforts were romantic tales, like her first published work, which appeared in a student publication in 1950. Yet she soon turned to short stories, many of which were set in small towns like Wingham. Although some of these stories appeared in small literary magazines, it was not until the publication of her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, that Munro was recognized as one of Canada’s outstanding young writers. In 1969 that collection was given the Governor General’s Literary Award for fiction.
Although her second book, Lives of Girls and Women, was called a novel, it could as logically be considered a collection of short stories. Each section deals with an important episode in the life of the central character, Del Jordan, as she matures in a small town in southern Ontario, outwardly...
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Born in Wingham, Ontario, on July 10, 1931, Alice Munro published her first story in 1950 while attending Western Ontario University, where she majored in English. Her first collection of short stories, however, Dance of the Happy Shades, was not published for another eighteen years. Munro comments that Wingham and its surroundings play an important part in her stories, both in their literal and emotional landscapes. She says in her Introduction to Selected Stories (1996) that “the ways lives were lived [in Wingham], their values, were very 19th century and things hadn’t changed for a long time. So there was a kind of stability...that a writer could grasp pretty easily.” Marrying in 1951 soon after she left the university, Munro and her husband left Ontario for Victoria where, in 1963, they started their own publishing company, Munro Books. When their marriage ended, she returned to Ontario and remarried in 1976. Munro says she writes every day “unless it’s impossible,” trying to get two to three hours of writing in “before real life hauls” her away. Although some critics have compared her psychological realism to that of Anton Chekhov’s, a comment she considers “a humbling experience,” Munro identifies Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor as some of the writers who have most influenced her. In addition to one novel, Munro has published seven collections of short stories, her most recent, Runaway, in 2007. She says that it was always her intention to be a novelist, but as a mother with three children, she never had enough time.
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IntroductionAlice Munro is the voice of small-town Canada. While many authors from the United States portray small-town life through the lens of nostalgia and Americana, Munro’s Canadian depictions are decidedly leaner. One of the many aspects of her writing that has earned critical praise is her ability to create intensely moving characters and stories using simple, straightforward language. Hers is a writing style that focuses not on plot and incident, but character, place, and time. Her stories offer glimpses into the lives of everyday people, and she eschews high-octane melodrama and sentimentality. Nevertheless, Munro’s work continues to captivate readers because of its rich, emotional detail and honest reflections of real life.
- Munro’s simple writing style and success in the short story format have earned her the reputation of Canada’s answer to Anton Chekhov.
- Munro’s daughter, Sheila, is also a writer. She published a memoir documenting her childhood and relationship with Alice. The result was Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up With Alice Munro.
- Now in her seventies, Munro claimed upon the 2006 publication of a collection of her stories, that no future compendiums would be released.
- Munro has won the Governor General’s Award, an extremely prestigious Canadian literary honor, an astounding five times.
- In 2007, Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” was adapted by actress/writer/director Sarah Polley into the critically acclaimed film Away From Her.
Alice Munro was born in 1931 in the small Canadian farming town of Wingham, in southwestern Ontario. She spent her entire childhood in Wingham, until she received a scholarship to the University of Western Ontario. While at the university, she met James Munro, and left school before graduating in order to marry him. The Munros raised three daughters and for several years ran a bookshop in Victoria; they eventually divorced. In 1972, Munro returned to Ontario and obtained jobs at universities to support herself while she was writing. During this time, she met Gerald Fremlin, a geographer. They decided to move back to the rural area where they had both grown up and take care of their respective parents. They imagined staying in the area for a year or two; at present, the couple still resides in the rural community.
Munro never intended to be a shortstory writer. Rather, she began writing short stories because she never had time to write anything longer. She got used to the format and has never looked back. She has said that she
do[es]n't understand where the excitement is supposed to come in a novel, and I do in a story. There's a kind of tension that if I'm getting a story right I can feel right away, and I don't feel that when I try to write a novel. I kind of want a moment that's explosive, and I want everything gathered into that.
She has different methods for accessing her imagination for story...
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Alice Munro was born in Ontario in 1931. She grew up on the outskirts of the town of Wingham, in a setting much like Tuppertown, as described by the narrator in ‘‘Walker Brothers Cowboy.’’ As a teenager, Munro began secretly writing stories during her lunch hour because writing was considered a strange activity for a girl. Munro felt a sense of alienation when she began to write, and was selfconscious about her early stories—which she later described as intensely romantic.
In 1949, Munro left home to attend the University of Western Ontario on scholarship. In 1950, her first published story, ‘‘The Dimensions of Shadow,’’ appeared in the university’s student publication. Upon her marriage in 1952, Munro ended her formal education. She and her husband moved to Vancouver and, two years later, to Victoria to open a bookstore. It was around this time that Munro began to write from her own experience, exploring characters and situations found in her native region of southern Ontario.
While raising her children, Munro continued to write and sold a few of her stories to be aired by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Over the next twelve years, she wrote the stories that appeared in her first collection, Dance of the Happy Shades. This volume, published in 1968, won the Governor General’s Award—Canada’s highest literary award— the following year. The stories in this collection are autobiographical in origin. Like Ben...
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Alice Munro was born Alice Laidlaw in 1931, in Wingham, Ontario, Canada. She grew up near the Great Lakes that border the United States and Canada, in rural environs such as are featured in much of her early fiction. She attended public schools and was considered such a good student that she advanced a grade early on. She began writing fiction while in high school, and even wrote a novel during this time which she has said was derivative of Emily Bronte’s famous Wuthering Heights. She won a scholarship to attend the University of Western Ontario and spent two years there as an English major. It was there that she first published short stories, in a university publication. She left the university upon her marriage to James Munro, when the couple moved to British Columbia.
During the 1950s, Munro continued to write while raising her first two daughters. She sold some of her stories to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for dramatization and radio shows. Munro had a third daughter in 1966, and then in 1968 her first collection of short stories, The Dance of the Happy Shades, was published. ‘‘Boys and Girls’’ is from this first collection of stories. Munro’s only novel was published in 1971. In 1974 a second collection of stories was published. With this third publication Munro established herself as a contemporary writer of note.
Munro has seven published books to her credit, six of which are collections of short stories, making her a specialist in the short story genre. Most national literatures have writers who specialize in this way, another notable author being Anton Chekhov an early twentieth-century Russian writer famous for his short stories. It has often been said, therefore, that Munro is Canada’s Chekhov.
Munro’s fiction is consistently favorably received by critics and the reading public alike, and she has won numerous awards for her writing. She has been invited to be Writer-in-Residence at various universities, including her alma mater, the University of Western Ontario (which conferred her an Honorary D.Litt. in 1976).
Biography (Short Stories for Students)
Munro was born on July 10, 1931, in the small town of Wingham, Ontario, in Canada. Her father owned a silver-fox farm on the outskirts of the town. The author began writing stories as a teenager during her lunch hours at school because it was too far to walk home, as other students did. Since writing was not looked upon favorably in the small town, Munro never showed her writing to anybody, but she has described these early works as passionate stories, full of horror, romance, and adventure. Munro did well in school, and in 1949 she earned a scholarship to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.
In 1951, Munro married James Munro, and the couple moved to the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, on Canada’s west coast, where the author concentrated on raising a family, including Sheila (born in 1953) and Jenny (born in 1957). Munro also secretly began to write stories again, drawing on her experience in rural Ontario for many of them. In 1963, the couple moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where they opened a bookstore together and, in 1966, had another daughter, Andrea. Two years later, in 1968, Munro published her first story collection, Dance of the Happy Shades, which won her immediate critical and popular attention— as well as the Governor General’s Award for fiction in 1969. In 1971, Munro published Lives of Girls and Women, an interconnected collection of stories. Munro’s relationship with her husband...
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