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Michael Ondaatje fonds. - 1962-1993. - 24 m of textual record and other material.

Biographical Sketch

Michael Ondaatje was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1943. He studied in Colombo, England, and in Canada at Bishop's University, the University of Toronto (B.A., 1965) and Queen's University (M.A., 1967). Ondaatje's earliest works were poetry: The Dainty Monsters (1967), and The Man with Seven Toes (1969). These were followed by The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-Handed Poems (1970) and There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do (1979) which both received the Governor General's Literary Award for poetry. As in Billy the Kid, his Coming through Slaughter (1976), explores the relationship between art and life through his fictionalized account of the life of Charles "Buddy" Bolden (1876-1931). His ostensibly autobiographical, Running in the Family (1982), is a collection of interrelated sketches, stories, poems and photographs that renders a fictionalized portrait of his family history in Sri Lanka. His tendency to blur the boundaries between reality, fiction and legend is seen in his semi-historical impressionistic novel about Toronto in the 1920s In the Skin of the Lion (1987), which won the Trillium Book Award in 1988. Notable works of poetry include Ondaatje's most ambitious work in verse Secular Love (1984) and The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems (1990). Ondaatje has published several books of criticism, including Leonard Cohen (1970) and has anthologized the stories of Munro, Wiebe, Thomas and Blaise in Personal Fictions (1977), and Canadian short fiction in From Ink Lake (1990). Influenced by the visual arts and by film, he has produced several films, including Sons of Captain Poetry (1970) about bp Nichol and The Clinton Special (1976), a film about Theatre Passe Muraille's The Farm Show. He was associated with Coach House Press beginning in 1966, and served as a member of the board of directors and an editor. He is currently editor, with Linda Spalding, of Brick: A Literary Journal which publishes literary essays, interviews, poetry and excerpts from novels.

Ondaatje gained international recognition with his highly acclaimed novel The English Patient (1992), for which he was the first Canadian to win the prestigious Booker Prize (1992). The English Patient was made into a movie, directed by Anthony Minghella and produced by Saul Zaentz, in 1996 and it won nine Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Film. Since 1971, Ondaatje has taught literature and creative writing at the Glendon College campus of York University, Toronto.

Scope and Content

The Michael Ondaatje fonds includes research notes; manuscripts and typescripts for Dainty Monsters, The Man with Seven Toes, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, Rat Jelly, Coming through Slaughter, There's a Trick with a Knife I'm Learning to Do, and Running in the Family; minutes of Coach House Press board meetings; manuscripts; galleys of publications edited by Ondaatje; cassette tapes; film; script notes; research notes; financial records for films made by Ondaatje; clippings and memorabilia. The third accession includes research notes, manuscripts, typescripts, drafts, proofs, publicity and reviews for In the Skin of a Lion (1987). Correspondence in this accession is with publishers and readers covering the period 1985 to 1993.

Immediate Source of Acquisition: acquired from the Michael Ondaatje in several instalments between 1985 and 1993. [1985-03, 1987-15, 1990-02, 1993-11]

Language: material in the fonds is in English.

Restrictions: researchers must have the permission of Michael Ondaatje before consulting this fonds.

Finding Aid: finding aid available.

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