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Margaret Laurance; Considered the Leading Novelist of Canada

January 17, 1987|From Times Wire Services

TORONTO — Margaret Laurance, a novelist and short story writer considered a significant influence on Canada's literary community, died Jan. 5 of cancer.

Mrs. Laurence was 60 and died at her home in Lakefield, Ontario, a village of 2,400 about 90 miles northeast of Toronto, a funeral home spokesman said.

"No writer ever did more for a country than Margaret Laurence did for ours," said Robert Fulford, one of her friends and editor of Saturday Night magazine. "She was absolutely crucial to the development of our literature."

Mrs. Laurence, who won acclaim with her novels of small-town life on Canada's prairies, was born in the country in Neepawa, Manitoba.

Her often-controversial stories centered on the repression and hardships of life in the fictional small town of Manawaka, roughly based on Neepawa.

Mrs. Laurence, described by the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature as Canada's "most successful novelist," was best known for her quartet of prairie novels--"The Stone Angel," "A Jest of God," "The Fire-Dwellers" and "The Diviners," her last novel which was published 12 years ago.

"A Jest of God," written in 1966, was made into the film "Rachel, Rachel" by Warner Brothers. It starred Joanne Woodward as the middle-aged teacher frustrated by the small-mindedness of her community.

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