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Mavis Gallant: a Canadian in Paris

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Growing up in Montreal, Mavis Gallant learned English and French together, but being the only anglophone in French schools was not an easy path. Since then, Gallant has thrived in both languages, settling in Paris and becoming an acclaimed author who is regularly published in the pages of the New Yorker. In this two-part 1965 profile from CBC-TV's Telescope, viewers get a glimpse of Gallant's Gallic life and how she approaches her work as a writer. 
• Mavis Young was born in Montreal in 1922. She was an only child whose father died when she was young and whose mother remarried, leaving her to be raised largely in boarding schools and by friends of the family. After finishing school, she worked as a journalist for the Montreal Standard, began writing short stories for Canadian magazines and was married briefly to musician John Gallant.

 • Gallant's first story in the New Yorker, Madeline's Birthday, was published on Sept. 1, 1951. In an introduction to a 2009 collection of Gallant's stories, fellow author Jhumpa Lahiri wrote of a pattern in Gallant's storytelling that this story would establish: "[Gallant's] characters are all adrift, either cut loose from their origins or caught between currents that are personal, temporal, political, sometimes a combination of all three. Bringing that drift into focus is the essence of Gallant's art."

• After leaving Canada in 1950, Gallant lived in several European countries before making her home in Paris. She still lived there as of 2013, having published over 100 more of her stories in the New Yorker. She has also written two novels, a play and many novellas.

• In 1981 Gallant, who has retained her Canadian citizenship, became a member of the Order of Canada. She was elevated to a companion of the Order in 1993. 

• Mavis Gallant died in Paris Feb. 18, 2014, at the age of 91.

Medium: Television
Program: Telescope
Broadcast Date: Jan. 22, 1965
Guest: Mavis Gallant
Host: Fletcher Markle
Duration: 45:06

Last updated: January 26, 2015

Page consulted on January 26, 2015

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