Selected Letters of Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman
Edited by: John Lennox and Ruth Panofsky
Over a period of forty years, from 1947 to 1986, Margaret Laurence and Adele Wiseman wrote to each other constantly. The topics they wrote about were as wide-ranging as their interests and experiences, and their correspondence encompassed many of the varied events of their lives. Laurence’s letters reveal much about the impact of her years in Africa, motherhood, her anxieties and insecurities, and her development as a writer. Wiseman, whose literary success came early in her career, provided a sympathetic ear and constant encouragement to Laurence.
This selection has been directed by an interest in these women as friends and writers. Their experiences in the publishing world offer an engaging perspective on literary apprenticeship, rejection, and success. The letters reveal the important roles both women played in the buoyant cultural nationalism of the 1960s and 1970s.
This is a valuable collection of previously unpublished primary material. The introduction contextualizes the correspondence and the annotations to the letters help to clarify the text. The Laurence-Wiseman letters offer a fascinating glimpse into the lives and friendship of two remarkable women whose personal correspondence was written with verve, compassion, and wit.
After the initial thrill of reading the Letters, I decided that I simply could not review them. I much admired the Introduction, and felt certain that it was far closer than I was likely to come to an even-handed, fair-minded review.
Johan L. Aitken, Literary Review of Canada