Margaret Laurence entry: Overview screen.
Writing and Life
Works By
Margaret Laurence was a mid-twentieth-century Canadian who began to publish while resident in Africa, putting her gift at the service of preserving oral folk literature through translation and adaptation. Already a journalist, she next turned her hand to essays, short stories, and travel writing. She is best known for her series of Manawaka novels: explorations of the lives of women from a closely imagined prairie community, whose experience takes in the whole span of her century.
18 July 1926 Jean Margaret Wemyss (later ML) was born in Neepawa, Manitoba (the town which later modelled for her fictional Manawaka), her parents' only child. Bibliographic Citation link.
By December 1954 ML published her first book at Nairobi, Kenya: A Tree for Poverty: Somali Poetry and Prose, a volume collecting translations of folk literature composed in a language which was as yet exclusively oral. Bibliographic Citation link.
7 February 1973 ML told the poet Al Purdy that she had finished The Diviners, and that her withdrawal symptoms on completing it were worse than usual because she had now brought her sequence of five Manawaka books to a close. Bibliographic Citation link.
May 1974 ML published her final novel, The Diviners, whose heroine, Morag Gunn, is another native of Manawaka.  Bibliographic Citation link.
5 January 1987 ML, under diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, ended her own life at her home in Lakefield, Ontario. Bibliographic Citation link.
By August 1989 ML's unfinished memoir, Dance On The Earth, was posthumously published, completed by her daughter, Jocelyn Laurence, with a photo by her son, David Laurence. Bibliographic Citation link.
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