Alistair MacLeod (muh-KLOWD) is generally considered one of Canada’s finest prose writers. He was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, where his father, Alexander MacLeod, and his mother, Christena MacLellan MacLeod, had relocated during the Depression. Alistair was still young when the MacLeods returned to their native Cape Breton Island and the family farm. Alistair MacLeod grew up in a large, extended family, whose members clung to their island and held to their Highland Scots traditions. Family, place, and heritage are basic values in all of MacLeod’s works.
After graduating from high school, MacLeod earned a certificate from Nova Scotia Teachers’ College and taught for a year on Port Hood Island, near Cape Breton. He left to attend St. Francis-Xavier University in Antigonish; in 1960 he graduated with both a B.A. and a B.Ed. The following year, MacLeod earned an M.A. from the University of New Brunswick. He was already interested in the short-story genre; his thesis was on Canadian short fiction in the 1930’s.
Although for some time MacLeod had been writing poetry and short fiction and in 1961 had a story published, his primary objective was a career in academics. After two years as an English instructor at Nova Scotia Teachers’ College, he moved to the United States and entered the University of Notre Dame. In 1968 he was awarded his doctorate. Again, he had focused on the short-story genre; his dissertation dealt with...
(The entire section is 488 words.)