Morley Callaghan Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The writing career of Edward Morley Callaghan (KAL-uh-han), one of Canada’s foremost novelists, began in the 1920’s and spanned more than six decades. Born in Toronto to an Irish Catholic family, he attended Withrow Public School and Riverdale Collegiate before attending St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he earned a B.A. in general arts in 1925 and subsequently enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School. While an undergraduate he took a part-time position as a reporter with the Toronto Daily Star. In 1923, while working there, he met Ernest Hemingway, who read some of Callaghan’s stories and urged him to keep writing.

Callaghan published his first short story, “A Girl with Ambition,” in This Quarter, a Parisian magazine, in 1962 (the story was one that Hemingway had commended). In that same year, he visited New York briefly and met several writers, including Ford Madox Ford, Katherine Anne Porter, and William Carlos Williams. By the time he graduated from law school in 1928, Callaghan had established himself as a writer. He had published several short stories in American and European magazines, had a story (“A Country Passion”) selected for inclusion in an anthology edited by J. Edward O’Brien, and had seen the publication of his first novel, Strange Fugitive. Set in the days of Prohibition, the novel introduced a theme that was to recur in Callaghan’s novels: the alienation of the social outcast. One year later, he published a collection of short stories, A Native Argosy, and with his wife, Loretto Florence Dee, traveled to Paris, where they spent the summer in the company of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. His experiences with these writers are recorded in That Summer in Paris.

In 1930, after residing for about eight months in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania and a hotel in New York City, he returned to take up permanent residence in Toronto...

(The entire section is 796 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Born in Toronto, Canada, on September 22, 1903, Edward Morley Callaghan was reared by Roman Catholic parents of Irish descent. He grew up interested in sports, especially boxing and baseball, but at a young age he also displayed a talent for writing, selling at age seventeen his first article, a description of Yonge and Alberta streets in Toronto, to the Star Weekly for twelve dollars. In 1921, he entered St. Michael’s College of the University of Toronto, and during the summers and part-time during the school year, he was a reporter for the Toronto Daily Star, the same newspaper that employed Ernest Hemingway, who encouraged him in his attempts at fiction writing. Morley received his B.A. in 1925, and enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He continued to write short stories, mailing them to Hemingway, who was then in Paris. Some of these stories, through Hemingway’s assistance, appeared in various magazines, such as This Quarter, Transition, and The Exile. In 1928, the year that Callaghan finished law school and was admitted to the Ontario bar, Maxwell Perkins, of Scribner’s, published several of his stories in Scribner’s Magazine and agreed to print his first novel, Strange Fugitive (1928), as well as a collection of short stories, A Native Argosy. Forsaking law, Callaghan decided to be a writer. After marrying Loretto Florence Dee in 1929, he traveled to Paris, where he met...

(The entire section is 412 words.)


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Edward Morley Callaghan was born in Toronto, Ontario, on February 22, 1903. His parents, both of whom encouraged his literary bent, were Roman Catholics of Irish descent. Callaghan was educated at Riverdale Collegiate and St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, where he excelled in academics and in sports. His college interests are often illustrated in his writing, most prominently in The Varsity Story, a novel of university life written on the occasion of a fund-raising campaign, and That Summer in Paris, which includes his account of his famous boxing match with Ernest Hemingway. During his university days, Callaghan worked as a reporter on the Toronto Daily Star; in 1923, he met Ernest Hemingway, who was the European correspondent for the paper. The two became good friends, and Hemingway not only provided stimulating conversation concerning Callaghan’s favorite authors—Sherwood Anderson (Callaghan’s “literary father”), James Joyce, Pound, and Fitzgerald—but also encouraged him to continue writing fiction.

Callaghan received a bachelor of arts degree from St. Michael’s in 1925 and subsequently enrolled in Osgoode Law School, from which he graduated in 1928. From 1926 through 1928, he made numerous trips to New York, where he met many friends of Hemingway who were to help him in his career. Among them were Katherine Anne Porter, William Carlos Williams, Nathan Asch, and Maxwell Perkins of the publishing house Charles Scribner’s Sons. Perkins, after reading Callaghan’s material, decided to publish his first novel, Strange Fugitive, and a collection of stories, A Native Argosy. Following his marriage to Loretto Dee in 1929, Callaghan traveled to Paris, where in a few months he completed a novel, It’s Never Over, a novella, No Man’s Meat, and a number of stories.

In 1930, Callaghan returned to Toronto permanently and began to produce his mature work, including Such Is My Beloved, The Loved and the Lost, and Close to the Sun Again. Although his work has a universal appeal that distinguishes it from much Canadian fiction, it is rooted in Callaghan’s observations of ordinary Canadian life and the particular attitudes of people as they respond to social and institutional forces. Into his eighties, Callaghan continued to write effectively, challenging the moral and social complacency that threatens the individual consciousness. He died in Toronto on August 25, 1990.