Quill and Quire


« Back to Omni

Deals: CanLit legend Timothy Findley is finally recognized with his first comprehensive biography

FrontmatterMarch_Deals_TimothyFindleyAfter revisiting Timothy Findley’s breakout novel, 1977’s The Wars, for one of her books, Vancouver scholar Sherrill Grace discovered there wasn’t enough information on the Canadian novel (or its author) to satisfy her curiosity. “We’ve had very few biographies of our great artists in any discipline … this has bothered me for a while,” she says. “I started digging and made up my mind that there should be a biography of such an important writer, and that this might be a project I should do.”

After nearly a decade of research, Grace is poised to complete her book on Findley, who died in 2002. She believes the current socio-political landscape makes this as apt a time as any. “He would be turning in his grave over what has happened in the U.S., and what could happen,” says Grace. “He would have said, ‘Pay attention.’”

Tiff: The Life and Works of Timothy Findley, appearing in 2018 with Wilfrid Laurier University Press, will be the first comprehensive literary examination of the author, according to acquiring editor Siobhan McMenemy. It is preceded only by Carol Roberts’s brief 135-page biography, Timothy Findley: Stories From a Life, published by ECW Press in 1994. “I was rather taken aback when I realized there had been no such examination,” says McMenemy. “Sherrill’s engagement with Findley will be a layered one that enriches our understanding not only of him as an individual, but the concerns he brought to his writing … the culture and history that was moving around him.”

Grace – a prolific scholar, writer, and professor emirita in the University of British Columbia’s English department – has published works on various cultural luminaries, such as authors Margaret Atwood and Malcolm Lowry, and Group of Seven artist Tom Thomson. She says the book will inevitably address how the Canadian landscape informed Findley’s writing. “He did not want to be seen as a Canadian writer if that was going to be a limitation. [But] he was deeply shaped by the southern Ontario landscape and he transformed it. He built universal and international themes and concerns into it,” Grace says. “He has a lot to say to people now, and I hope people reading this biography will go back and read him again, or for the first time.”