Alice Munro

Canadian Short Story Writer

Nobel Prize for Literature, 2013: Alice Munro is represented by her daughter, Jenny Munro
Nobel Prize for Literature, 2013: Alice Munro is represented by her daughter, Jenny Munro. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Alice Munro Facts

Known for: short stories; Nobel Laureate in Literature, 2013
Occupation: writer
Dates: July 10, 1931 -
Also known as: Alice Laidlaw Munro

Background, Family:

  • Mother: Ann Clarke Chamney Laidlaw; schoolteacher
  • Father: Robert Eric Laidlaw; fox and turkey farmer, watchman

Education:

  • University of Western Ontario, B.A. 1952

Marriage, Children:

  1. husband: James Armstrong Munro  (married December 29, 1951; bookstore owner)
    • children:3 daughters: Sheila, Jenny, Andrea
  1. husband: Gerald Fremlin (married 1976; geographer)

Alice Munro Biography:

Born Alice Laidlaw in 1931, Alice loved reading from an early age.  Her father had published a novel, and Alice began writing at age 11, pursuing that passion from that point on. Her parents expected her to grow up to be a farmer’s wife.  Her mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when Alice was 12. Her first short story sale was in 1950, while she was attending the University of Western Ontario, where she was a journalism major.  She had to support herself through college, including selling her blood to a blood bank.

Her early years of marriage were focused on raising her three daughters in Vancouver, where she had moved with husband, James, after their marriage in December, 1951.  She continued writing, mostly privately, publishing a few articles in Canadian magazines. In 1963, the Munros moved to Victoria and opened a bookstore, Munro’s.

After their third daughter was born in 1966, Munro began to focus again on her writing, publishing in magazines, with some stories broadcast on radio. Her first collection of short stories, Dance of the Happy Shades, went to print in 1969.  She received the Governor General’s Literary Award for that collection.

Her only novel, Lies of Girls and Women, was published in 1971. This book won the Canadian Booksellers Association Book Award.

In 1972, Alice and James Munro divorced, and Alice moved back to Ontario.  Her Dance of the Happy Shades saw publication in the United States in 1973, leading to wider recognition of her work. A second collection of stories was published in 1974.

In 1976, after reconnecting with college friend Gerald Fremlin, Alice Munro remarried, keeping her first married name for professional reasons.

She continued to get recognition and wider publication. After 1977, the New Yorker had first publication rights for her short stories.  She published collections more and more frequently, her work becoming more popular, and often recognized with literary awards.  In 2013, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Many of her stories have been set in either Ontario or in western Canada, and many deal with the relationships of men and women.

Books by Alice Munro:

  • Dance of the Happy Shades, 1969
  • Lies of Girls and Women, 1971  (only novel published)
  • Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You, 1974
  • Who Do You Think You Are?, 1978
  • The Moons of Jupiter, 1982
  • The Progress of Love, 1986
  • Friend of My Youth, 1990
  • Open Secrets, 1994
  • Selected Stories, 1996 (28 of Munro’s previously published stories, including many of her best known to that point)
  • The Love of a Good Woman, 1998
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage Stories, 2002
  • Runaway: Stories, 2004
  • The View from Castle Rock, 2006
  • Away From Her, 2007
  • Alice Munro's Best: Selected Stories, 2008
  • Too Much Happiness: Stories, 2009
  • Courting Johanna, 2009
  • New Selected Stories, 2011
  • Dear Life, 2012

Teleplays:

  • "A Trip to the Coast," in To See Ourselves, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), 1973
  • "Thanks for the Ride," in To See Ourselves, CBC, 1973.
  • How I Met My Husband, (broadcast in The Plays the Thing, CBC, 1974), Macmillan (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1976.
  • "1847: The Irish," in The Newcomers: Inhabiting a New Land, CBC, 1978.

Awards

  • Governor-General's award, 1969, 1978, 1987
  • B.C. Library Association Outstanding Fiction Writer's award, 1972
  • Great Lakes Colleges Association award, 1974
  • Province of Ontario Council for the Arts award, 1974
  • Canada-Australia literary prize, 1977
  • National Magazine Awards Foundation Gold Medal award, 1977, 1982
  • Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters and Periodical Distributors of Canada Author's award, 1980
  • Marian Engel award, 1986
  • Canada Council Molson prize, 1991
  • Commonwealth Writers prize (Canada and Caribbean Region), 1991
  • Trillium Book award, 1991
  • Order of Ontario medal, 1994
  • Canada-Australia Literary Prize, 1994
  • Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year award, 1995
  • Giller Prize, 1998, 2004
  • D. Litt.: University of Western Ontario, 1976
  • Medal of Honor for Literature, National Arts Club (New York), 2005
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Vancouver Public Library, 2005