Alice Munro

Great Writers

Alice Munro, black and white photo

Alice Munro

Alice Munro, beloved Canadian short story writer and Nobel Prize laureate, passed away in May 2024 at age 92. Her stories, often about women's lives in her home area of rural southwestern Ontario, touched a human chord across generations and around the world. The internationally acclaimed Munro was revered by other writers and literary organizations who considered her work to be nearly perfect. Writer Cynthia Ozick called her "our Chekhov." Richard Ford said, "she's just sort of as good as it gets."



Munro's masterful short stories are concise in language, acutely observant, multi-layered, and often surprising in the way everyday lives can be upended by circumstances. She published 14 collections of short stories, no novels, although she has been lauded for packing a novel's worth of epic storytelling into a few short pages. Upon winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013, Munro said: “I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not something you play around with until you got a novel written.”

In Canada, Munro is considered a national treasure. She won the Governor General's Literary Award three times, including for her first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968). By 1977, when The New Yorker started publishing her stories, she became known across the United States and internationally. Among her many literary awards and honors, the pinnacle was the Nobel Prize, at age 82, for her body of work.

Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw in 1931 in Wingham, Ontario, the eldest daughter of a teacher and a farmer. She attended the University of Western Ontario, but didn't complete her English degree. She and her first husband, James Munro, moved to British Columbia, and in 1963, they started Munro's Books, a legendary bookstore that continues today in the city of Victoria. The couple divorced, and Munro moved back to her corner of Ontario, where she married her second husband, Gerald Fremlin, and lived in his family's home in the small town of Clinton, where much of her writing was done. Munro's three daughters survive her.

Alice Munro's collections of short stories include:

  • Lives of Girls and Women (1971)
  • Friend of My Youth (1990)
  • Open Secrets (1994)
  • The Love of a Good Woman (1998)
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001)
  • View From Castle Rock (2006)
  • Too Much Happiness (2009)
  • Dear Life (2012)

If you are inspired by Alice Munro, try your hand at a short story!


[Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger]

Read more about Alice Munro:

"Alice Munro – Biographical," The Nobel Prize

"Alice Munro, Nobel Laureate and Master of the Short Story, Dies at 92," by Anthony DePalma, New York Times, May 14, 2024.
 

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