October 9th, 2015
Michael Ondaatje said that “Mavis Gallant is one of the great short story writers of our time”. She was born Mavis de Trafford Young in Montreal in 1922, and has told of a peripatetic childhood of many residences and many schools. Her writing life, unfolding during the Second World War, began as a reporter for the Montreal Standard and occasional work for the National Film Board where she met her husband-to-be, John Gallant. After a short-lived marriage, Gallant moved to Europe in 1950, and settled in Paris where she was to spend the rest of her life. Initial success in placing a story with The New Yorker magazine was translated into an ongoing and successful relationship with that prestigious periodical to which she contributed the majority of her stories, establishing a formidable reputation as one of the truly significant short story writers of her time. As well she authored two novels and published essays and literary reportage. Her achievements were crowned with a Governor General’s Award in 1981 for her collection Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories (1981). She was inducted into the Order of Canada, and was awarded Quebec’s Prix Athanase-David, and the Molson Prize, while several universities bestowed honorary degrees upon her and had her as writer-in-residence. She died at the age of ninety-one after an intensely private life in Paris.