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Alice Munro's rural roots

A master of the short story, Alice Munro is one of Canada's most acclaimed literary treasures. With characters and settings that often mirror her own background and memories, her unadorned yet emotionally searing stories have enthralled readers since her first collection was published in 1968. With this selection of eight interviews from 1974 to 2007, CBC Digital Archives uncovers a witty, revealing and generous author.

"Who do you think you are?" people would ask in Alice Munro's hometown of Wingham, Ont. Growing up there in the 1930s and '40s, she found it a judgmental, controlling place where she had to rely on her imagination to help her survive. Yet Munro's childhood memories are the foundation of many of her acclaimed short stories, in which she revisits her own family background and, as she describes it, attempts to get closer to the truth. In this 1974 conversation with Harry Boyle - a broadcaster and author with a similar upbringing - Munro explores how her rural roots continue to influence her writing.
• At the time of this 1974 clip, Munro had recently separated from her husband, Jim Munro, and was living in London, Ont. She was about begin a year as writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario. In 1975 she moved to Clinton, Ont., a short distance from Wingham, to live with Gerry Fremlin, a man she had first met at university. "I never, never, never, never, never, never thought I would end up [in Huron County]," Munro said in 1986.

Who Do You Think You Are? is the title of a collection of Munro's short stories published in 1978. The book won her a second Governor General's Award for English fiction. Outside Canada, it was published under the name The Beggar Maid and was shortlisted for the 1980 Booker Prize. 

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Supplement
Broadcast Date: Aug. 18, 1974
Guests: Harry Boyle, Alice Munro
Host: Jim Robertson
Duration: 42:05
Photo credit: Reg Innell/GetStock.com
Something I've been Meaning to Tell You, Alice Munro, Penguin Canada.

Last updated: October 10, 2013

Page consulted on December 5, 2013

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