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Paris-based lit mag to reprint Alice Munro’s first short story

HRM founder and editor-in-chief Harriet Alida Lye

Her Royal Majesty, a Paris-based literary and arts journal, is celebrating its latest issue on May 11, with simultaneous launch parties in Paris, London, Berlin, New York, Toronto, and Montreal*.

Each issue of Her Royal Majesty is curated around a particular theme, and appears in print and online. Issue 12 focuses on “The Exotic,” and features the first short story ever published by Alice Munro. The Dimensions of a Shadow” appeared in a 1950 issue of Folio (the University of Western Ontario’s undergraduate journal), when Munro was only 18.

HRM founder and editor-in-chief Harriet Alida Lye is a Toronto native who started the journal in 2008 while studying in Halifax. Lye, who now lives in Paris, speaks to Q&Q about Munro and the City of Lights’s influence on the journal.

How did you come across Alice Munro’s first short story?
I love Alice Munro’s work. I am from very near where she grew up in Southwestern Ontario. It’s not just the places that are familiar; it’s the tone, the stories themselves. I read on Wikipedia that her first short story, The Dimensions of a Shadow, was published in the University of Western Ontario’s undergraduate journal, but found that unless readers want to buy a copy of Folio Magazine, vol. 4, no. 2, for $750 on Amazon, the story remained inaccessible. So I started to dig for it.

How did you get the rights to publish The Dimension of a Shadow?
I got the idea to publish this story and got in touch with Munro’s agents and publishers. We communicated back and forth for months. I had lawyers and literary editors help me draw up contracts, but finally they just said no. A while later, after having more or less given up, I was talking to a friend about it and he suggested I try contacting the University of Western Ontario directly. Since the story was published there first, he informed me they hold the rights to it, not Alice Munro, not her agent, not her publisher. The university staff gave me the permission required to publish the story and I wrote Alice Munro a letter asking for her blessing.

How has Paris influenced Her Royal Majesty?
The community I found in Paris has been absolutely essential to the development of Her Royal Majesty. The people I’ve met “ by this, I mean artists and writers, but also readers, thinkers, teachers, and friends “ have been instrumental in the evolution of the magazine.

UPDATE: The Halifax launch party is cancelled. For more details on all the events, visit HRM’s website.