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BIRDSELL, SANDRA, 1942-
LMS-0243

Sandra Birdsell fonds. - 1959-2000. - 4.5 m of textual record and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Sandra Birdsell (née Sandra Louise Bartlette) was born in Hamiota, Manitoba in 1942: the fifth of ten children. She began writing stories in the mid-1970s and published her first collection of stories Night Travellers in 1982. Birdsell studied writing with Jack Hodgins at the Saskatchewan Summer School for the Arts (1982) and took a writing workshop with Rudy Wiebe at the University of Winnipeg (ca. 1978-1979) and a creative writing course with Robert Kroetch at the University of Manitoba. Birdsell became known first as a short story writer: producing two collections of short stories Night Travellers (1982) and Ladies of the House (1984): these linked works (since published in a collected edition) take place in the fictional prairie town Agassiz. Birdsell went on to produce three novels, The Missing Child, The Chrome Suite and The Russländer, and another collection of short stories, The Two-Headed Calf. Birdsell has also written a book for children The Town that Floated Away and written dramatizations for radio, stage plays, film scripts, and television.

Birdsell is known for writing about the lives and problems of rural women: she brings a dark sense of realism to her writing and confronts the problems of women's lives unflinchingly. The fact that Birdsell was born and raised in Manitoba informs her work. Sandra Birdsell draws on her Russian Mennonite and French Canadian heritage and prairie history (with such events at the Morris flood, for example).

Sandra Birdsell's awards include the Gerald Lampert Award (1984), the National Magazine Award for Short Fiction (1984), W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award (1990), the Joseph B. Staufer Award from the Canada Council for Meritorious Achievement in the Arts (1992), the Marian Engel Award, the Writers' Development Trust Award (1993), and the McNally Robinson Best Book of the Year Award (1993), Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award (1997), Saskatchewan Children's Literature Award (1997), she has also been short-listed for numerous other awards including the Governor General's Award for Literature. Birdsell's work has appeared in The Oxford Book of Canadian Short Stories, Stories By Canadian Women, and From Ink Lake, among other anthologies. Sandra Birdsell has been invited to teach writing and to be writer-in-residence at a number of institutions (including the Regina Public Library, McMaster University, the University of Waterloo and the University of Alberta). Sandra Birdsell lives in Regina.

Scope and Content

Dealing with the period of 1959 to 2001, the fonds contains the manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence and related material of novelist and short-story writer Sandra Birdsell. This comprehensive fonds contains manuscript, draft and final versions of Birdsell's novels (The Missing Child, Chrome Suite, The Russländer) and books of short stories (Night Travellers, Ladies of the House, The Two-Headed Calf), and includes numerous drafts of an early, unpublished novel (Bobbie/A Mouse in a Glass Jar). Also included are poems, speeches, essays, scripts for radio, television and film and other miscellaneous writings, photographs, audio recordings, correspondence and printed ephemera relating to her career and teaching. The fonds also contains a large amount of correspondence with other writers: among them Eric McCormack, Alistair MacLeod, Andreas Schroeder, Glen Sorestad, Jane Urquhart and Alice Munro. The fonds contains the following series: Series 1. Working notebooks; Series 2. Manuscripts of early work; Series 3. Short fiction manuscripts; Series 4. Novel manuscripts; Series 5. Scripts; Series 6. Manuscripts of poetry, lyrics and non-fiction prose writing, Series 7. Manuscripts of children's books, Series 8. Correspondence; Series 9. Teaching, touring and professional activities documents and ephemera; Series 10. Education as a writer; Series 11. Research trip ephemera; and Series 12. Personal memorabilia and daybooks.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: acquired from Sandra Birdsell in January 2002.

Language: Material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: Some restrictions on consultation.

Finding Aid: finding aid available.

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