Fonds RC0002 - Margaret Laurence fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Margaret Laurence fonds

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  • 1949-1997 (Creation)

Physical description area

Physical description

1.10 m of textual records
1 audio cassette
1 audio disc
1 audio reel

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Margaret Laurence, noted Canadian author, was born Jean Margaret Wemyss in Neepawa, Manitoba on 18 July 1926. She was educated at the University of Manitoba. In 1947 she married John Laurence and they had two children, Jocelyn and David. In 1949, they moved to England and then Africa, where they lived in Somalia and Ghana. The Laurences separated in 1962, and divorced in 1969. During this time she returned to Canada, living in Vancouver, before going back to England, first to London, and then to Elm Cottage in Buckinghamshire. In the early 1970s, she accepted a position of writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto, and settled in Lakefield, Ontario. In 1986, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away, in her home in Lakefield, 5 January 1987.

Laurence twice won the Governor General's Award for fiction, as well as many other literary awards. Her best known works are The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), The Fire Dwellers (1969), A Bird in the House (1970), The Diviners (1974 and many others). Her memoirs, Dance on the Earth, were published posthumously.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists mainly of book manuscripts including The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), Long Drums and Cannons (1966), The Fire Dwellers (1969), A Bird in the House (1970), The Diviners (1974) and Heart of a Stranger (1976). The audio cassette, disc and reel are of songs from The Diviners.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The first accrual was acquired from Laurence in November of 1982. The second accrual was acquired in 1991 from Jack McClelland, presumably given to him by Laurence. The third accrual (44-1992) was acquired from The Estate of Margaret Laurence in December 1992. The fourth accrual (37-1997) was acquired from Shapiro & Orlandini Books, Winnipeg, Manitoba in November 1997. The fifth accrual (15-1998) was acquired from The Estate of Margaret Laurence in May 1998; access to this accrual is restricted to bona fide scholars who are either graduate students, have doctoral degrees or are faculty members at a recognized college or university. Researchers must comply with the rules of access and sign an application form in order to access the restricted items. The sixth accrual (10-1998) was acquired from Gordon R. Elliott in May 1998. The seventh accrual (21-2000) was acquired from Laurences's children, Joceyln and David Laurence, in May 2000. the eighth accrual (29-2000) was transferred from the Austin Clarke fonds. The ninth accrual (09-2001) was acquired from Hugh Anson-Cartwright in May 2001. The tenth accrual (21-2002) was obtained from Lois Wilson in May 2002. The eleventh accrual (36-2004) was acquired from Jacqueline Hooper in November 2004. The twelfth accrual (03-2006) was acquired from the Toronto Reference Library in January 2006. The thirteenth accrual (30-2006) was acquired from Beverley June Linklater in November 2006. The fourteenth accrual (75-2009) was acquired from Jocelyn Laurence in December 2009. The fifteenth accrual (2012-008) was acquired from Jocelyn and David Laurence in March 2012.


There have been fourteen accruals.
The first accrual is arranged into the following series: manuscripts; reviews, other printed material.
The second accrual consists of manuscripts.
The third accrual consists of short stories.
The fourth consists of a scrapbook and poster.
The fifth accrual is arranged into the following series: manuscripts; journals; correspondence, publications, research files.
The sixth accrual consists of correspondence.
The seventh accrual consists of typescripts of Dance on the Earth.
The eighth accrual consists of correspondence and the typescript of a speech.
The ninth accrual is a mimeograph ts., "The Christmas Story".
The tenth accrual consists primarily of letters to Lois Wilson, including Laurence's instructions concerning her own funeral service and burial.
The eleventh accrual consists of two letters from Laurence to Jacqueline Hooper and a photograph of Laurence in Buckinghamshire.
The twelfth accrual consists of a letter from Laurence to Louise Boyd and a paperback book.
The thirteenth accrual consists of a letter from Laurence to Beverley June Linklater.
The fourteenth accrual is arranged into the following series: passports and address book; correspondence; business and personal documents; creative works and documents pertaining to other writers; agreements, permissions and contracts.
The fifteenth accrual is arranged by numbered album, retaining the original order.

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Location of originals

Additional Margaret Laurence materials are housed at York University in the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections.

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

Access Restrictions:
First accrual: excised portions (lined through) of The Diviners manuscript (box 3) are never to be published or printed, including in review articles or critical articles.
Fifth accrual (boxes 6, 7 8): access to this accrual is restricted until the end of the year 2022. Prior to that date, access is permitted only to scholars who are graduate students, have doctoral degrees or are faculty members at a recognized college or university. Researchers wishing to access the fifth accrual must comply with the rules of access and complete an "Application to use the Laurence Journals and Manuscripts". For a copy of the Application, please send an email to The copying of material in the fifth accrual is not permitted.

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Further accruals are not expected.

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