Table of contents

I | Beginnings, 1959–1969
II | Challenges and Successes, 1970–1979
III | A Legacy, 1980–1986


Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland—one of Canada’s most beloved writers and one of Canada’s most significant publishers—enjoyed an unusual rapport. In this collection of annotated letters, readers gain rare insight into the private side of these literary icons. Their correspondence reveals a professional relationship that evolved into deep friendship over a period of enormous cultural change. With its insider’s view of the book business from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s, Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters presents a valuable piece of Canadian literary history.


"The letters themselves are superb. ...What is perhaps most compelling in the Laurence-McClelland correspondence is their ability to get furiously angry at each other—and then use that anger to affirm their loyalty and appreciation of each other's passionate commitment to Canadian literature. "

- Frances W. Kaye

"Few epistolary volumes have as strong a claim to true importance as Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland. ... More than that, though, the book captures several generations, offering a broad look at copyright, the changing technology of publishers, political discontent in Canada, the burgeoning national literary scene, general readers’ and reviewers’ conservatism,. .. and writers’ creative process. ... [A] major achievement of this book is its insight into Laurence as a major cog in the wheels of Canada’s publishing and arts scenes. ..."

- Jeffrey Aaron Weingarten

"[Margaret Laurence and Jack McClelland, Letters] documents the era through the warm, nostalgic filter of private letters between one of the country’s most acclaimed novelists and her publisher. It is a sweet book, funny and angry by turn, and a delight to read. " [Full review at https://www. blacklocks. ca/book-review-im-betting-on-you]

- Holly Doan

"One of the most important writers at McClelland & Stewart in the house's heyday, [Margaret] Laurence formed a bond with flamboyant publisher Jack McClelland. The 400 or so letters that passed between them show a deep mutual respect and offer up many insights into writing and publishing in Canada. ... [The book] exposes a great deal about Laurence's craft, her difficulties with censorship, and McClelland's commercial ups and downs. ... The letters themselves are revealing and frequently fascinating. "

- George Fetherling

"A glimpse into a warm friendship and mutually beneficial business relationship. "

- Sarah Murdoch

"For scholars, this volume offers a wealth of insight into Canadian publishing history and into Laurence’s creative practice. The annotations and introduction, though of somewhat uneven quality, are nevertheless thoughtful and richly informative. These entertaining letters tell an absorbing story about the development of Canadian literary culture, as well as about the relationship of two extraordinary individuals. "

- Faye Hammill, The Times Literary Supplement