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Margaret Laurence Books In Order

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Publication Order of Manawaka Sequence Books

The Stone Angel (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Jest of God (1966)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Fire-Dwellers (1969)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Bird in the House (1974)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Diviners (1974)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Happy Families (1958)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
This Side Jordan (1960)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Prophet's Camel Bell (1963)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Tomorrow-Tamer (1963)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Now I Lay Me Down (1968)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Jason's Quest (1970)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Heart of a Stranger (1976)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Olden Days Coat (1979)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Christmas Birthday Story (1980)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

New Wind in a Dry Land (1963)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Long Drums and Cannons (1968)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Dance on the Earth (1989)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Very Large Soul (1995)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Selected Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman (With: Adele Wiseman) (1997)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Intimate Strangers: The Letters of Margaret Laurence and Gabrielle Roy (With: Gabrielle Roy) (2004)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

A Tree for Poverty (1954)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Embryo Words (1997)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Recognition and Revelation (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Margaret Laurence
Author Margaret Laurence was born on July 18, 1926 as Jean Margaret Wemyss in the prairie town of Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada. She was the daughter of Verna Jean Simpson and a solicitor named Robert Wemyss. She was known as “Peggy” during her childhood.

Both her parents died during her childhood, with her mom when she was four and her dad when she was nine). Margaret Simpson, came to take care of the family after her mom died and married Robert, and they adopted Robert, a son, in 1933. Robert Sr. died of pneumonia. Laurence moved into her maternal grandpa’s home with her stepmom and brother.

She decided while she was a child that she wanted to become a writer, and started writing stories during her elementary school years. Her professional writing career started in 1943 with a job at the town newspaper, and continued into 1944 when she entered the Honors English program at Winnipeg’s United College (which is now the University of Winnipeg). After she graduated in the year 1947, she got hired as a reporter for The Winnipeg Citizen. The same year she married civil engineer named Jack Laurence.

Jack’s profession took the couple to Somalia, England, and eventually on to Ghana, where Laurence gained an appreciation for Africa and the storytelling traditions of its people. It was while the couple was in Africa that their two kids, David and Jocelyn, were born, and when Margaret started working seriously on her writing. Her book of essays about and translations of Somali poetry and prose was published as “A Tree for Poverty” in 1954.

While she wrote primarily about Canadian subjects, she maintained her interest in African literature and in 1968 published a critical analysis of Nigerian literature. Present in her African works is a concern with the ethical dilemma of being a white colonialist living in colonial Africa.

In 1957, Margaret and her family returned to Canada, moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, where they stayed for five years. In the year 1962, she separated from her husband, and she moved to London, England for one year, followed by a move to this cottage in Buckinghamshire for a decade, but she still visited Canada often. Her divorce became final in the year 1969.

Margaret wrote her first works with Canadian subject matter during this time. “The Stone Angel” was published in 1964, and was the first of Laurence’s group of “Manawaka books”, named since they all are set in the fictional prairie town of Manawaka, a community modelled after her hometown of Neepawa, Manitoba.

The follow up, called “A Jest of God” in 1966 won her first Governor General’s Award. She received a great deal of commercial and critical acclaim in Canada and in 1971 she was honored by being named a Companion to the Order of Canada.

She returned to Canada during the early seventies, settling in Lakefield, Ontario. It was during this time that she kept on writing and held positions as writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto, and Trent University. In the year 1974, she completed her last novel, called “The Diviners”, for which she received the Molson Prize and the Governor General’s Award.

She committed suicide on January 5, 1987 at her Lakefield home after she learned that her recently diagnosed lung cancer was terminal and had spread to other organs. The only care was to optimize her quality of life and mitigate suffering. Margaret decided the best course of action was to spare herself and her family any further suffering. She documented her choice in writing up until the time of her death. She’s buried in Neepawa Cemetery, just a few meters away from the stone angel that inspired the novel of the same name.

“The Stone Angel” is the first novel in the “Manawaka Sequence” series and was released in 1964. Introducing Hagar Shipley, one of the most memorable characters in Canadian fiction. Querulous, stubborn, self reliant, and (at the age of ninety) with her life almost all behind her, she makes a bold final step toward independence and freedom.

While her tale unfolds, we’re pulled into her past. We meet her as a young girl growing up in a black prairie town; playing the wife of a virile yet unsuccessful farmer with whom her marriage was stormy; being a mom that dominates her younger son; and, lastly, as an old woman isolated by an uncompromising pride and by the stern virtues she inherited from her pioneer ancestors.

This celebrates the triumph of the spirit, and reveals Margaret at the height of her powers as the writer of extraordinary craft and profound insight into the workings of the human heart.

“A Jest of God” is the second novel in the “Manawaka Sequence” series and was released in 1966. Margaret writes, in this celebrated novel, with power, grace, and deep compassion about Rachel Cameron. Rachel Cameron is a woman that struggles to come to grips with death, love, with herself, and her world.

Rachel is trapped in a milieu of pettiness and deceit, her own and that of others, and she longs for love, and some contact with another human being that shares her own rebellious spirit. Through her summer affair with Nick Kazlik, a schoolmate from her earlier years, she learns to finally reach out to another person and to let herself be vulnerable.

“The Fire-Dwellers” is the third novel in the “Manawaka Sequence” series and was released in 1969. Stacey MacAindra burns, to burst right on through the shadows of her own existence to a richer life, and to recover some of the passion that she can just dimly recall of her past.

A woman that has four kids, a hard-working yet uncommunicative husband, her spinster sister, and an abiding conviction that life’s got a lot more to offer her than just the tedious routine of her days.

Stacey, in the telling of her life, rediscovers for all of us the richness of the commonplace, the beauty and pain in truly being alive, and the secret music which dances in everybody’s soul.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Margaret Laurence

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