Anne Hébert Additional Biography


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Anne Hébert was born in the small summer home of her parents in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, a country village in Quebec province. The eldest of four children, she enjoyed a close relationship with parents who were both intelligent and cultivated. The family’s principal residence was in the city of Quebec, where Anne’s father, Maurice Hébert, pursued his career as a bureaucrat in the provincial government. Maurice Hébert was also an essayist and poet of some note; he wrote literary criticism of local interest and was a member of the honorific Royal Society of Canada. He is known to have been particularly insistent on correct usage of the French tongue—an issue that assumes particular importance in the population of French Canada.

Both of Hébert’s parents were interested in nature, but her mother is said to have been her particular guide to the forest and streams that surrounded their summer home. The summers spent at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault also brought Hébert into close contact with her cousin Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, four years her senior, who was destined to be a prominent poet, one of the first in his regional tradition to write in modern form and an initiator of the new dynamic of Québécois verse. His illness and premature death from heart disease in 1943, after the cold reception given his innovative verse by the conservative literary establishment in Quebec, made him a symbolic, tragic figure.

Hébert’s formal education was largely accomplished at home, under the supervision of her parents, with short stays in several Catholic girls’ schools in Quebec. Hébert later said that it was her father’s pride in her early poetic production (he copied her poems in a pocket notebook and carried them with him to show to friends) that was the first encouragement she received as a writer. Her verses and short stories began to appear in print in various magazines and newspapers in 1939, and her first collection of poems, Les Songes en équilibre, appeared in 1942. This volume, now regarded as a promising bit of juvenilia, won the Prix David and gathered very favorable notice for its graceful treatment in spare, free verse of themes of filial love, religious fervor, and the vocation of the poet. In many ways, the verses are reminiscent of those of Saint-Denys Garneau. Her next major publication, The Tomb of the Kings, while also written in short-line free verse, is much more intense and tightly knit and shows a new preoccupation with death, perhaps in part inspired by the deaths of Saint-Denys Garneau and Hébert’s own younger sister, Marie, in 1952.

Hébert worked for Radio Canada and the National Film Board from 1950 to 1954, writing scripts for various short features; probably her best-known work in this medium is the lyric text she wrote to accompany a short feature on the life of Saint-Denys Garneau, which did not appear until 1960. In 1954, she received a grant from the Royal Society of Canada, one of the first of a series of awards and stipends that enabled her to devote herself full time to her literary career. She used her...

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(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Anne Hébert was born in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, Quebec, Canada, on August 1, 1916. She spent her childhood and adolescence in her family’s home in the country. From a young age, she was encouraged to write poetry by her father Maurice-Lang Hébert, a poet and literary critic, and her cousin Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, also a poet. She began writing poetry as a teenager. She received her education at Collège Saint-Cour de Marie in Merici, Quebec, and at Collège Notre Dame in Bellevue, Quebec. Hébert became involved in the film industry in Canada in 1940 and was affiliated with the government film bureau for a short period of time. She wrote for television and the theater as well as for radio. In 1942, she published her first collection of poetry Les Songes en équilibre. The work was very well received, and she was awarded the Prix Athanase-David.

In 1943, Hébert’s cousin Saint-Denys Garneau died of a heart attack. His death was to have a significant impact on her poetry and her later fiction. In 1950, she began working for Radio Canada. That same year, with the financial help of novelist and television writer Roger Lemelin, she privately published Le Torrent (1950, 1962; The Torrent: Novellas and Short Stories, 1973), a collection of short stories. She had been unable to find a publisher for the collection because of its violent themes and descriptions. Death had already become a main theme after her...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Born in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, a village near Quebec City, on August 1, 1916, to Maurice Hébert and Marguerite Marie Taché, Anne Hébert (ay-bahr) was the eldest of four children. With her brothers, Jean and Pierre, her sister, Marie, and her parents, Hébert lived in Quebec City, and spent her summers in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault. She was reared in a cultivated and privileged French Canadian family whose ancestry dated back through her father’s side to the first farmer in New France. Maurice Hébert, a civil servant, became known as a writer and literary critic. Her maternal grandfather was the architect for the legislative building in Quebec City. In this atmosphere, Hébert received an informal but impressive...

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(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Anne Hébert, in a prolific and distinguished career, produced remarkable prose and poetic works, all of which adhered to a conception of life as a mysterious force, struggling to maintain equilibrium in its desires and obsessions. Choosing a rich, lucid, and wonderfully evocative style, she succeeded in creating aesthetic dimensions that are distinctly her own. Her writings, rather than being rational and realistic, combined dream and reality and unforeseen shifts in time and place. A supremely resonant voice, Hébert was, indeed, one of the most compelling writers of the twentieth century.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Throughout her prolific literary career, spanning more than half a century, Anne Hébert (ay-bayr) created works, in both poetry and prose, that bear traits recognizable as distinctively her own. Her worlds are often dark and suspenseful, and they are interwoven with leaps between past and present, contradictions between love and hatred, and juxtaposed images of life and death. Through her diverse and compelling evocations of human nature, she became known as one of Canada’s most intriguing twentieth century writers.

Hébert, who came from a cultivated and privileged family whose ancestry dates back to the early days of New France, was reared in Quebec City. During the summers, which were spent in...

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(Poetry for Students)

Anne Hébert was born on August 1, 1916, in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault, Quebec. Suffering from a childhood illness, she was schooled at...

(The entire section is 317 words.)