Mazo De La Roche: Rich And Famous Writer
Heather Kirk

XYZ Publishing

XYZ continues its excellent biography series for Young Adult Readers (The Quest Library) with the story of Mazo de la Roche, creator of Jalna and the Whiteoaks family saga. De la Roche was born in Toronto in 1879, and died in 1961. She started writing as a young girl, and had her first story published in 1902. In 1927 she won the Atlantic Monthly-Brown, Little competition for her novel Jalna, and became an overnight celebrity. The pressure of writing more successful novels and the demands of fame were overwhelming for her delicate sensibilities, and de la Roche was prone to nervous breakdowns. Fortunately she had her cousin, brought up with her as a sister, to be her editor, secretary, companion and life-long support.

The only Canadian male author of the time who enjoyed a comparable fame was Stephen Leacock. The only other Canadian female author was L.M. Montgomery, who wrote for children, typically viewed as a woman’s sphere. De la Roche wrote for adults, and made a great deal of money at it. There were times when she wrote too quickly, but there was critical as well as popular acclaim for much of her work. She was also a very private woman, who needed a quiet routine in which to write. She wrote her autobiography (which was also a bestseller, as were almost all of her novels), but was selective in the facts she chose to share. In this biography Kirk calls on all the existing resources to make a rounded living character from someone who refused to be at the beck and call of her admiring public. mRb