Tiff: A Life of Timothy Findley

Sherrill Grace. Wilfrid Laurier Univ., $34.99 (540p) ISBN 978-1-77112-453-9
Grace (Landscapes of War and Memory), a scholar of Canadian literature and culture, provides a superb biography of Toronto-born novelist and playwright Timothy Findley (1930–2002). Sifting through Findley’s prodigious archive of journals and letters, she traces his path toward finding his identity: as a Canadian who initially moved abroad to pursue his ambitions, as a gay man who faced familial and societal homophobia, and as an artist whose early interest in acting gave way to writing. Grace acknowledges key figures in Findley’s life, including actors Alec Guinness and Ruth Gordon—the former mentored Findley’s nascent London stage career; the latter encouraged him to pursue fiction writing as well. Most critically, Grace shows how his partner, Bill Whitehead, whom he met in 1962, provided the acceptance Findley needed; it was at their rural Ontario farmhouse where all his major works were written. Grace also provides valuable background on Findley’s working methods—for example, how the exacting process of reworking his 1967 debut, The Last of the Crazy People, transformed him into a lifelong “obsessive reviser” who carefully preserved all his drafts just “in case [he] might need them.” Written with great sensitivity and attention to detail, Grace’s comprehensive biography succeeds in giving a complete picture of its subject as an individual and an artist. Agent: John Pearce, Westwood Creative Artists. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 06/04/2020
Release date: 08/25/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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