British Columbia

UVic library acquires writer Edith Iglauer's personal, professional archives

Renowned North American writer Edith Iglauer passed away on February 13, but before she died, her family donated her extensive archives to the University of Victoria.

Collection includes letters from Pierre Trudeau, Eleanor Roosevelt

Edith Iglauer died in February 2019 at the age of 101, but she left behind a monumental collection of her personal and professional writing. (University of Victoria)

Edith Iglauer was a renowned North American writer, who worked as a war correspondent during the Second World War, and wrote for The New Yorker and Harper's magazine, among other esteemed publications. She died Feb. 13.

Prior to her death, Iglauer's family donated her archives to the University of Victoria. The writer, who was born in Ohio, moved to Canada's West Coast in the 1960s.

Now, all of her writings, personal and literary, are stored at the university's library.

"We have her parents' correspondence and diaries, but we also have her diaries," said Heather Dean, associate director of special collections at the library.

A letter from former prime minister Pierre Trudeau to Edith Iglauer. (University of Victoria)

Upon receiving the collection, Dean and her colleague, Lara Wilson, pored through the stacks of papers and books. Letters, drafts, notes, published works, it's all there, clearly labelled and catalogued.

"She was a well organized person," Wilson told CBC's Khalil Ahktar.

"Some people have a strong sense of of their career and their life, and and I think perhaps very self consciously maintain their archives as it grows over their life and career."

Among the collection are letters from the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt and Pierre Trudeau.

"Edith had this amazing capacity to build friendships and relationships and this included people who she was interviewing," Dean said.  "She just had this incredible ability for building bonds."

Included in the Edith Iglauer archive collection is this sheet of notes from a press conference held by Eleanor Roosevelt. (University of Victoria)

Iglauer became a household name after writing the book Fishing with John, a detailed memoir about her marriage to B.C. fisherman John Daly. Part of the collection includes her daily planner during the period she was with him.

Edith Iglauer's planner is showcased as part of the archive collection at the University of Victoria Library. (University of Victoria)

"She really dedicated herself to writing," Dean said.

The digital world means people are less likely to keep such vast collections of writings, but to Dean and Wilson, it's important to keep a record for future generations to learn from.

"I think it reveals the writing process, the drafting process for a particular author," Wilson said.

Included in the archives is a manuscript from Iglauer's bestselling book Fishing with John. (University of Victoria)

Dean added that archivists struggle with providing writers and their families with the proper information on preserving important work.

"It's not easy. It takes a lot of time."

With files from Khalil Akhtar and North by Northwest

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