Margaret Avison (1918- ), poet, was born in Galt, Ont. and educated at the Victoria College, University of Toronto (B.A., 1940). Before attending schools of creative writing at the Universities of Indiana (1955) and Chicago (1956-7), Avison worked as a librarian, educator, and social worker in Toronto. From 1964 to 1966, she returned to do graduate work in English at the University of Toronto, and in 1973-4, she was writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario. Her first published poem, “Gatineau,” appeared in Canadian Poetry Magazine in 1939, and several others were published during the war years in Canadian Forum. Avison’s first major appearance was in the 1943 edition of A.J.M. Smith’s anthology, The Book of Canadian Poetry. During the ten years after the war, she wrote poems and book reviews for Canadian Forum, Poetry, Contemporary Verse, Origin, and produced a History of Ontario (1951) for use at the junior high school level. Since living as a Guggenheim fellow in Chicago in 1956, Avison has composed and published three collections of poetry: Winter Sun (1960), which won a Governor General’s Award, The Dumbfounding (1966), and sunblue (1978). The former two collections have been published together in the Modern Canadian Poets series as: Winter Sun/The Dumbfounding: Poems 1940-1966 (1982). Avison has also translated poems and short stories from Hungarian for Ilona Duczynska and Karl Polanyi, including The Plough and the Pen, Writings from Hungary 1930-1956 (1963) and Acta Sanctorum and Other Tales (1970).
The fonds consists of: manuscripts (1959-1977) of handwritten or photocopied reproductions of poems by Avison and others, including bill bissett, M.B. Duggan, George Johnston, Gwendolyn MacEwen, B.P. Nicol, Al Purdy, and Ken Yukich; correspondence (1959-1983) between Avison and the above named poets, as well as publishers and publications including Lancelot Press, W.W. Norton Press, “Acta Victoriana,” “Credo,” “Prism,” and others; clippings of reviews of Avison and other poets’ works; printed material; music scores; and several photographs.
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Inventory number: F0259