Mavis de Trafford Young Biography


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

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...

(The entire section is 682 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Born in Montreal in 1922, Mavis Gallant (née Mavis de Trafford Young), an only child, was placed in a Catholic convent school at the age of four. She attended seventeen schools: Catholic schools in Montreal, Protestant ones in Ontario, as well as various boarding schools in the United States. After the death of her father, Gallant lived with her legal guardians in New York, a psychiatrist and his wife. At the age of eighteen, Gallant returned to Montreal. After a short time working for the National Film Board of Canada in Ottawa during the winter of 1943-1944, Gallant accepted a position as reporter with the Montreal Standard, which she left in 1950. In 1951, Gallant began contributing short-fiction stories to The New Yorker. In the early 1950’s, she moved to Europe, living in London, Rome, and Madrid, before settling in Paris in the early 1960’s. It was through her travels and experiences in France, Italy, Austria, and Spain that she observed the fabric of diverse societies. During the initial years of her life in Europe, Gallant lived precariously from her writings, ultimately becoming an accomplished author, depicting loners, expatriates, and crumbling social structures. Gallant settled in Paris, working on a history of the renowned Dreyfus affair in addition to her work in fiction. Gallant settled in Paris, occasionally traveling to Canada, the United States, and England.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Mavis Gallant was born Mavis de Trafford Young in Montreal, Quebec, in 1922, to Canadian Scottish Protestant parents. Her early life in a city of diverse languages, religions, and cultures gave her a sense of pluralism that permeates all her fiction. Sent away to a French boarding school at the age of four, she attended a succession of seventeen different schools in both the United States and Canada. The constant change in school venues gave her a keen sensitivity to the sense of displacement and exile that is explored in so much of her fiction.

Gallant chose not to attend college but instead returned to Montreal, intent on a writing career. She took a job with the National Film Board of Canada in 1943, editing documentary films, but soon resumed her search for a writing job. She was hired by the Montreal Standard newspaper in 1944 as a feature writer and worked there until 1950. Her story “With a Capital T,” collected in Home Truths, is a good account of what it was like to be an intelligent, imaginative young woman grudgingly allowed by old newspapermen to fill in while the younger men were away at war. During her time at the Standard her five-year marriage to John Gallant, a musician from Winnipeg, ended in divorce in 1948.

Gallant had set herself the goal of being independent by the age of thirty, and, in 1950, despite a chorus of dire warnings from her peers, she resigned her position with the...

(The entire section is 511 words.)