Ethel Davis Bryant Wilson was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on January 20, 1888, to Robert William Bryant and Lila (Malkin) Bryant. Her mother died when she was only two, and her father took her to Staffordshire, England, to be reared by her maternal grandmother and successive aunts and uncles. Her family members were involved in a number of literary activities, including reading, journalism, and translation, and were acquainted with Matthew Arnold and Arnold Bennett. This literary atmosphere no doubt stimulated her interest in letters, and the literary allusions and quotations in her works demonstrate a comprehensive familiarity with the English tradition. Her father died when she was ten, and she went to Vancouver, British Columbia, to join her grandmother, who had moved there. Many of these family and early personal experiences are recounted in The Innocent Traveller, the semibiographical novel based on the life of her aunt.
In Vancouver, Wilson attended Miss Gordon’s School, but she was sent to Trinity Hall School in Southport, England, for her secondary education. In 1907, she graduated from Vancouver Normal School with a Second Class Teacher’s Certificate. Between 1907 and 1920, she taught in Vancouver elementary schools.
On January 4, 1921, Wilson married Wallace Wilson. Their marriage was a happy one, marked by much traveling in Canada, Europe, and around the Mediterranean, and the successful development of both their careers. Her husband became a respected physician; he studied internal medicine in Vienna in 1930, represented Canada at the British Medical Association’s convention in 1938 and at the World Health Organization in Paris in 1947, and was president of the Canadian Medical Association in 1946 and 1947. The relationship between the Wilsons may have provided details for the happy marriages and the...
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