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Author Elizabeth Smart interviewed on Morningside

"I just sort of go on to do the next thing," says Elizabeth Smart on her approach to what seems to be an extraordinary life. The privileged daughter of a well-to-do Ottawa family first gained notoriety for her relationship with married poet George Barker, and she chronicled their love affair in the book By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept.  In this 1982 interview from CBC Radio's Morningside, Smart reads from the book and tells Peter Gzowski about her current role as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta.
• Born Dec. 27, 1913, Elizabeth Smart began writing in the 1930s and worked at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C. during the Second World War.

• According to The Guardian, a British newspaper, Smart was a fan of poet George Barker before the two ever met. She wrote to him and, desperate to leave the U.K. for the United States but lacking the funds for it, he wrote back asking for her help.  He was married to another woman, Jessica Barker, but they were separated and would not divorce for religious reasons.

• Smart wrote her best-known work, By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, after giving birth to her first child with Barker (they would have four) and living in British Columbia in 1941. Written in a poetic prose style and first published in 1945, her account of their romance has been reprinted four times.

• Barker had 11 other children with three other women. He died in 1991.

• Smart died at her longtime home in Suffolk, England in 1986.
Medium: Radio
Broadcast Date: Nov. 29, 1982
Program: Morningside
Host: Peter Gzowski
Guest: Elizabeth Smart
Duration: 17:39
Photo Credit: Graham Spry / Library and Archives Canada / e003641903

Last updated: May 21, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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