Mavis Gallant was born Mavis Young in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on August 11, 1922. Her father, who died when she was ten years old, was Anglo-Scottish; her mother, who soon remarried, was American. At age four, Gallant was sent to a French convent school and subsequently attended a number of boarding schools, completing her education at a New York high school, where she had been sent to live with a guardian.
After returning to Canada, she married John Gallant in 1943 and got a job as a feature reporter with the Montreal Standard, where she worked for six years. She began writing and publishing short stories in Canadian journals during this period, which she has called her apprenticeship. Although she has said she liked the life of a reporter, her goal was to move to Paris before she was thirty and write nothing but fiction. In 1948, she and her husband were divorced; she moved to Europe in 1950.
Gallant began her lifelong association with The New Yorker in 1950, rather insecurely. As she tells the story, she procured the services of an agent in the United States, because she knew she was going to be traveling around in Europe. She sent the agent several stories, all of which he said he was unable to place. It was only when she was destitute in Madrid in 1952 that she happened to see a copy of The New Yorker with one of her stories in it. She contacted the magazine and found out that her agent did sell the stories to The New Yorker and other magazines, giving a fictitious address for her in Europe and keeping the money. Gallant has said that the feeling of dismay she experienced when she believed every...
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