Anne Hébert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Anne Hébert
Born August, 1916
St. Catherine de Fossambault, Quebec
Died January 22, 2000 (2000-01-23) (aged 83)
Language French
Citizenship Canadian
Notable works Les Songes en Équilibre, Poèmes, Kamouraska
Notable awards Prix David, Prix Femina, FRSC, Governor General's Award, Order of Canada, Prix Duvernay, Molson Prize

Anne Hébert, CC OQ (pronounced [an eˈbɛʁ] in French) (August 1, 1916 – January 22, 2000), was a French Canadian author and poet. She won Canada's top literary honor, the Governor General's Award, three times, twice for fiction and once for poetry.


Anne Hébert was born in Sainte-Catherine-de-Fossambault (name later changed to Sainte-Catherine-de-Portneuf, and in 1984 to Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier), Quebec. Her father, Maurice Hébert, was a poet and literary critic.[1] She was a cousin and childhood friend of modernist poet Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.[2]

She began writing poems and stories at a young age, and "found her work being published in a variety of periodicals by the time she was in her early twenties."[3] Les Songes en Équilibre, (1942) was Hébert's first collection of poems published. It got good reviews and won her the Prix David.

In 1943 her cousin, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, "died of a heart attack at the age of 31. In 1952, her only sister Marie died suddenly of an illness. These two events would help shape her poetic vision, full of images of death and drowning."[4]

No Quebec publisher would publish her 1945 collection of stories, Le Torrent. It was finally published in 1950 at the expense of Roger Lemelin.[3]

Hébert was affiliated with Canada's first film bureau. She worked for Radio Canada, Film Board of Canada and National Film Board of Canada during the 1950s.[2]

Again, she could not find a publisher for her second book of poetry, Le Tombeau des rois (The Tomb of Kings), and had to publish it at her own expense.[3] In 1954 Hébert used a grant from the Royal Society of Canada to move to Paris, thinking that the city would be more receptive to her writing.[3]

Hébert returned to Canada in the 1990s. Her last novel Un Habit de lumière was published in 1998.

Hébert died of bone cancer on January 22, 2000 in Montreal.[5]



Hébert's first book of stories, Le Torrent, "a collection of tales that appeared in 1950, shocked the reading public" but has "become a classic."[6]

Les Chambres de bois (1958), her first novel, "contained particularly original imagery, exploring mortally constrained worlds in which interaction is based on brutal passion and primitive violence."[6] The book "signaled a significant shift in style and content for Québécois literature. Instead of realistic discourse, we find a literature of rebellion that is experimental and expresses a deep sense of alienation."[4]

In 1970, "Hébert convincingly demonstrated her virtuosity in the great novel Kamouraska. Here she skillfully combines two plots in a 19th-century Québec setting. The writing has a breathless, anguished and romantic rhythm that underlines well-controlled suspense.[6]


Hébert "has been less prolific as a writer of poetry than of fiction, but her relatively small number of works has earned her a prominent place in the canon of Québécois poetry."[3]

"Hébert's road to maturity as a poet had three stages. In 1942 she published her first collection, Les Songes en équilibre in which she portrays herself as existing in a dreamlike torpor."[6]

"In 1953 Le Tombeau des rois appeared, in which the self triumphs over the powerful dead who rule our dreams."[6]

"Finally, in 1960 (when Québec was in the spring of the Quiet Revolution), the powerful verse of Mystère de la parole reveals the liberated self."[6] Mystère was a "new cycle of poems inspired by light, the sun, the world, and the word.... Thus Hébert's poetic trajectory was complete: from writing about solitary, anguished dreams, she had arrived at a form of expression that was both opulent and committed to the real world."[7]


Hébert's first book of poetry, Les Songes en Équilibre, won Quebec's Prix David.[3] She won the Prix France-Canada and the Prix Duvernay in 1958 for Les chambres de bois.[8]

Hébert was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1960.[6]

Her Poèmes (a reprinting of Le Tombeau des rois, coupled with a section of new poems, Mystère de la parole) won the Governor General's Award for poetry in 1960. She twice won the Governor General's Award for fiction, for her novels Les enfants du sabbat (1975) and L’enfant chargé des songes (1992).[4]

She won the Molson Prize in 1967.[7]

Hébert won France's Prix de librairies for her 1970 novel Kamouraska and its Prix Fémina for her 1982 novel Les fous de Bassan. Both books have also been made into movies, Kamouraska in 1973 directed by Claude Jutra, and Les fous de Bassan in 1986 by Yves Simoneau.[6] Kamouraska also won the Grand Prix of the Académie royale de la langue françaises de Belgique.[4]

Hébert's work has been translated into at least seven languages, including English, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. The First Garden, the English translation of Le premier jardin, won the Félix Antoine-Savard Prize for Translation in 1991,[8]

L’école Anne-Hébert, opened in Vancouver in 1983, is an elementary school that offers instruction from kindergarten through grade 6 in French only.[9]

In 2013, documentary filmmaker Michel Langlois released Anne des vingt jours, a biographical documentary about Hébert.[10]

Commemorative postage stamp[edit]

On September 8, 2003, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Library of Canada, Canada Post released a special commemorative series, "The Writers of Canada", with a design by Katalina Kovats, featuring two English-Canadian and two French-Canadian stamps. Three million stamps were issued. The two French-Canadian authors used were Hébert and her cousin, Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.[11]



  • Les chambres de bois. (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1958), ISBN 2-02-008805-3The Silent Rooms (1974, translated by Kathy Mezei)
  • Kamouraska (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1970.), ISBN 2-02-031429-0Kamouraska (1974, translated by Norman Shapiro)
  • Les enfants du sabbat. (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1975), ISBN 2-02-006564-9Children of the Black Sabbath (1977, translated by Carol Dunlop-Hébert)
  • Heloise (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1980.), ISBN 2-02-005462-0
  • Les fous de Bassan – (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1982.), ISBN 2-02-006243-7In the Shadow of the Wind (Toronto: Anansi, 1983; translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • Le premier jardin. (Paris: Seuil, 1988.), ISBN 2-02-009974-8The First Garden (Toronto: Anansi, 1991; translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • L'enfant chargé de songes. (Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1992), ISBN 2-02-015374-2The Burden of Dreams (Toronto: Anansi, 1994; translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • Est-ce que je te dérange?) – (1998) – Am I disturbing you? (Anansi, 1999; translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • Un habit de lumière. (Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1999.), ISBN 2-02-036742-4A Suit of Light. (Toronto: Anansi, 2000, translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • Collected Later Novels. (Toronto: Anansi, 2003, translated by Sheila Fischman), ISBN 0-88784-671-8


  • Les songes en equilibre – (1942)
  • Le tombeau des rois (The Tomb of the Kings) – (1953)
  • Poèmes (Poems) – (1960) – Poems by Anne Hébert (Don Mills, ON: Musson Book Co., 1975, translated by Alan Brown)., ISBN 0-7737-1007-8
  • Selected Poems – (1987) – Selected Poems (1987)
  • Le jour n'a d'égal que la nuit (Québec : Boréal, [1992]), ISBN 2-89052-519-8 Day Has No Equal But the Night (Toronto: Anansi, 1997; translated by Lola Lemire Tostevin)
  • Oeuvre poétique. (1993)[7]
  • Poèmes pour la main gauche – ([Montréal]: Boréal, [1997]), ISBN 2-89052-823-5

Short stories and novellas[edit]

  • Le torrent. (1950), ISBN 2-89406-033-5The Torrent (1973, translated by Gwendolyn Moore)
  • Aurélien, Clara, Mademoiselle et le Lieutenant anglais. (1995) ISBN 2-02-023670-2 Aurélien, Clara, Mademoiselle, and the English Lieutenant (Toronto: Anansi, 1996; translated by Sheila Fischman)
  • Est-ce que je te dérange? (Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1998), ISBN 2-02-032310-9Am I Disturbing You? (Toronto: Anansi, 1999; translated by Sheila Fischman)


  • La Mercière assassinée – (The Murdered Shopkeeper, translated by Eugene Benson and Renate Benson, Canadian Drama/L'Art dramatique Canadien, vol. 10, no.2 (1984).)
  • Le temps sauvage – (1956) – (The Unquiet State, translated by Eugene Benson and Renate Benson, Canadian Drama/L'Art dramatique Canadien, vol. 14, no. 2 (1988).)
  • Les Invités au Procès – (The Guests on Trial, translated by Eugene Benson and Renate Benson, Canadian Drama/L'Art dramatique Canadien, vol. 9, no.1 (1983).)
  • La cage suivi de L'île de la demoiselle – (1990) – (The Cage and L’Île de la demoiselle, translated by Pamela Grant, Gregory J. Reid, and Sheila Fischman, (2010).)

Film scripts[edit]

  • L'Éclusier (Lock-keeper) – (1953)
  • The Charwoman – (1954)
  • Midinette (Needles and Pins) – (1955)
  • La Canne à pêche – (1959)
  • Saint-Denys Garneau – (1960)
  • L'Étudiant – (1961)
  • Kamouraska – (1973)
  • Les Fous de Bassan – (1987)



  1. ^ "Anne Hebert Biography," Dictionary of Literary Biography,, Web, April 26, 2011.
  2. ^ a b Liukkonen, Petri. "Anne Hébert". Books and Writers ( Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Archived from the original on January 26, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Anne Hébert," Author Profiles, Northwest Passages, Web, April 5, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d "Anne Hébert Archived April 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.," French-Canadian Writers,, Web, April 5, 2011.
  5. ^ Litweb:Anne Hébert Archived March 30, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Pierre H. Lemieux, "Anne Hébert Archived May 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.," Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig, 1988), 974.
  7. ^ a b c Pierre H. Lemieux, "Anne Hébert Biography," Encyclopedia of Literature, 7990,, Web, April 26, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Anne Hébert[permanent dead link],", Web, April 26, 2011.
  9. ^ <"École Anne Hébert,", Web, Apr 26, 2011.
  10. ^ "Anne, sa sœur Anne". Gazette des Femmes, May 13, 2013.
  11. ^ "50th Anniversary of the National Library / Canadian Authors Archived September 23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.," Canada Post, Web, March 28, 2011.

External links[edit]