In 1927 five women brought a case to the Supreme Court of Canada to establish the right of women to be appointed to the Senate. These women were Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, and Irene Parlby. At the time women were not legally recognized as “persons” and could be denied rights based on narrow interpretations of the law. In fact, while some women in Canada gained the right to vote in 1916, many women — particularly women of colour — did not. By 1960, all women in Canada won the right to vote.
In recognition of the “Famous Five” bringing this case to the SCC, we have chosen five of our women authors to spotlight for Women’s History Month. These authors produce award-winning writing we love to read, and we’ve included some of their reviews and interviews as well.
Here’s a brief book list for our “Famous Five”interpretation:
- Amateurs at Love, Patricia Young
- Amateurs at Love is Patricia Young’s fourteenth book of poetry, and explores the idea that we’re always trying to get love right. She also wrote one collection of short fiction when poetry made no sense to her, and sometimes finds herself driven to a narrative, which she explored in Amateurs at Love. Young likes to break rules as a writer, once opening up a book with weather despite all advice doing so, and in some ways has diarized her life through writing. Young loves to play with words and hopes her writing prompts others to write their own stories.
- Crow, Amy Spurway
- Amy Spurway was born and raised on Cape Breton Island, where, at the age of eleven, she landed her first writing and performing gigs with CBC Radio. She cried for days after reading Slaughterhouse Five and as a child was terrified of What Was I Scared Of by Dr. Seuss as a child. She may or may not have been involved in a Grade Four Cursing Club. Her office where she writes is a frigid cave — she gets dressed for work by wrapping herself in a fuzzy blanket and grabbing her slippers with microwavable heating pad inserts. Amy lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
- Life on Mars, Lori McNulty
- When Lori McNulty writes, she prefers to invite an unusual cast of characters and events to come out to play. She enjoys life’s comic realities and seeing how the authors she admires transmit emotion and experience. McNulty is currently at work on a novel but remains deeply committed to the short story, a form she regularly champions and describes as the novel’s misunderstood champion. Her debut short story collection, Life on Mars was shortlisted for the 2017 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and one of the stories from it, Monsoon Season, was a finalist for the 2014 Journey Prize.
- F-Bomb, Lauren McKeon
- Despite feminism’s branding and mass-marketing feminist is still considered a dirty word. When Lauren McKeon began to interview activists who identified as anti-feminists or feminist for F-Bomb, they couldn’t really agree on what the word should mean. Her book came from her master’s thesis at University of King’s College MA in the creative non-fiction program. McKeon hopes the book will continue the discussion around feminism and that people will listen and self-reflect.
- Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires
- When Mickalene Thomas was conducting her MFA at Yale University, she was told she wasn’t really painting, and her work was called “outsider” art. In response, she pursued her art by also combining her techniques with what was deemed high art. Now, when you Google Matisse or Manet or Courbet, you also receive results for Thomas’s art. Thomas uses intersections of different materials in her collages as a way to explore the daily life of women and how sexuality, class, economics, and colour are intersectional. The exhibit Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires is intended to include Black women and remind the world they are here and can represent themselves.
Keep watching our website for next weeks' list of Goose Lane Editions women authors.