Mavis Gallant (guh-LAHNT) was born Mavis de Trafford Young in Montreal, Canada, on August 11, 1922, the daughter of parents who enrolled her, beginning at the age of four, in a series of schools, some seventeen in number, in Montreal, Ottawa, and the eastern United States. Although a Protestant, she also attended some Catholic schools, which later provided her with material for her stories. Her childhood years were marked by loneliness. Her mother virtually abandoned her to foster parents in Ottawa before Gallant, while in her teens, went to live with a New York psychiatrist and his wife, who became her legal guardians. Her father died when she was a young girl.
After she returned to Montreal in 1940, she worked for a short time with the National Film Board before becoming a reporter for the Montreal Standard in 1944. During the next six years she wrote many features, photo-stories, and reviews, some of which she later reworked into her fiction. In her features she reveals a knowledge of Freudian psychology, a wide acquaintance with English Canadian and French Canadian literature and culture, an interest in a variety of displaced people caught in an alien culture, and a fascination with the dynamics of family struggles.
For a variety of reasons Gallant left her job with the newspaper in 1950. Her brief marriage to Johnny Gallant had ended, leaving her determined to live independently. This was difficult in Montreal; she had always been drawn to Europe, where she wanted to write for a living. During her Montreal Standard years she had been writing short stories, a few of...
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