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Artifact: Nobel Prize winner Alice Munro’s early introduction to CBC Radio

She published her first short story collection in 1968, and the praise was immediate. Dance of the Happy Shades (McGraw-Hill Ryerson) won the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction that year.

Robert Weaver, known as the "Godfather of Canadian literature" (and the creator of the CBC Literary Prizes), was an early supporter of Alice Munro. He was one of the first people to discover the writer who the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature jury called yesterday a “master of the contemporary short story". 

A letter sent by Alice Munro in 1952 to Robert Weaver, producer of the Canadian Short Stories radio program on CBC Radio. Photo: Library and Archives Canada

Weaver came to CBC in 1948. At age 27, he was given a 15-minute time slot on Friday nights to air readings of short fiction pieces. Weaver solicited works from established authors, but also started looking for emerging talent for his show Canadian Short Stories.

Word got out among the literary community and a University of Western Ontario student named Alice Laidlaw, known today as Alice Munro, learned from a friend that CBC was looking for original stories.

She initially sent in two of her stories. Weaver, known to be a ruthless editor, refused one and asked her to shorten the other. Thus began a relationship that deeply marked the author’s writing. She would later dedicate her collection of short stories, The Moons of Jupiter, to him thirty years later.

In 1952, Weaver prepared to broadcast another of her stories, The Liberation, on his show. Alice Laidlaw, who had been married in the meantime, then wrote him to ask him to kindly replace her maiden name with her new married name: Alice Munro.

Source: CBC Literary Awards / Prix littéraires Radio-Canada archives
Robert Weaver, Godfather of Canadian Literature by Elaine Kalman-Naves (Véhicule Press)

Are you the next Alice Munro? Submit your work to the CBC Short Story Competition


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