Margaret Laurence

Posted by on Jul 15, 2015 in Tributes |


A Community Project to honour women who have enriched our lives

The Ban Righ Centre supports mature women who are starting or returning to education at Queen’s University. In taking this significant step, these women found role models, advocates and inspiration in other women. Then, as they engage in their studies and in their activities beyond Queen’s with friends, family, peers and colleagues, these students effect continual and positive change, extending the reach of their mentors and the Ban Righ Centre. Through “Who Is She?” we honour women who make a difference.

Margaret Laurence

Honoured by: Dorris Heffron

Somehow, at age seven I knew I wanted to be a writer but had no mentors until I published my first novel. It was 1970. Having completed my M.A. with Queen’s, I was living in Oxford. There I wrote my first novel and submitted it to the biggest publisher I knew of. It was astounding to be accepted by Macmillan, London and yet more surprising to hear my editor say; “I’ve just edited a novel by another Canadian, Margaret Laurence. Do you know her? Would you like to meet?”

Would I ever! I loved all her books. She was the lead wolf in Canadian literature.

Margaret invited me to her home, fed me cauliflower soup, shared her sherry and wisdom. When I had my first baby, Margaret assured me. “She will have teeth. And more hair. You will be able to write more novels, though it will be more difficult and slow.”

When Margaret returned to Canada we corresponded occasionally, she always insightful and encouraging. But I sensed things weren’t as well for her as she had hoped. Another wolf was taking a lot of lead. When I returned to Canada in 1980 my first invitation was to a party for Margaret Laurence. It was wonderful to see her again but it wasn’t for long enough. She was struggling with censorship, pack rivalry, and eventually succumbed to cancer. But I feel her spirit smiling when I howl for joy at reviews saying my work evokes hers. Thank you, Margaret for your great influence on so many.

Dorris Heffron Arts’67, M.A ’69

Dorris Heffron’s recent novel is City Wolves