Morley Callaghan

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Morley Edward Callaghan

Born(1903-02-22)February 22, 1903
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
DiedAugust 25, 1990(1990-08-25) (aged 87)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Novelist
  • short-story writer
  • broadcaster

Morley Edward Callaghan CC OOnt FRSC (February 22, 1903 – August 25, 1990) was a Canadian novelist, short story writer, playwright, and TV and radio personality.[1]


Of Canadian/English-immigrant parentage,[2] Callaghan was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. He was educated at Withrow PS, Riverdale Collegiate Institute, the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall Law School. He articled and was called to the Bar, but did not practice law. During the 1920s he worked at the Toronto Star where he became friends with fellow reporter Ernest Hemingway, formerly of The Kansas City Star. Callaghan began writing stories that were well received and soon was recognized as one of the best short story writers of the day. In 1929[2] he spent some months in Paris, where he was part of the great gathering of writers in Montparnasse that included Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James Joyce.

He recalled this time in his 1963 memoir, That Summer in Paris. In the book, he discusses the famous boxing match between himself and Hemingway wherein Callaghan took up Hemingway's challenge to a bout. While in Paris, the pair had been regular sparring partners at the American Club of Paris. Being a better boxer, Callaghan knocked Hemingway to the mat. The blame was centred on referee F. Scott Fitzgerald's lack of attention on the stopwatch as he let the boxing round go past its regulation three minutes. An infuriated Hemingway was angry at Fitzgerald; Hemingway and Fitzgerald had an often caustic relationship and Hemingway was convinced that Fitzgerald let the round go longer than normal in order to see Hemingway humiliated by Callaghan. Both principles involved confirm the match took place, but there is disagreement between them as to how badly Hemingway was beaten. See That Summer in Paris, and Hemingway's Letters: To Max Perkins, 28 Aug 1929; to Fitzgerald, 12 Dec 1929; and to Mizener, 04 Jan, 1951. This boxing match could not have taken place at the American Club of Paris; since its founding in 1904, the American Club of Paris has never had a clubhouse, so it would have been impossible for the fight to have taken place there. It could possibly have been at Pershing Hall on the rue Pierre Charron, also known at the time as the American Soldiers and Sailors Club. A more likely candidate, however, is the basement of the United States Students' and Artists' Club on the boulevard Raspail in the Montparnasse area, much closer to where both Callaghan and Hemingway lived.

Callaghan's novels and short stories are marked by undertones of Roman Catholicism, often focusing on individuals whose essential characteristic is a strong but often weakened sense of self. His first novel was Strange Fugitive (1928); a number of short stories, novellas and novels followed. Callaghan published little between 1937 and 1950 - an artistically dry period. However, during these years, many non-fiction articles were written in various periodicals such as New World (Toronto), and National Home Monthly. Luke Baldwin's Vow, a slim novel about a boy and his dog, was originally published in a 1947 edition of Saturday Evening Post and soon became a juvenile classic read in school rooms around the world. The Loved and the Lost (1951) won the Governor General's Award. Callaghan's later works include, among others, The Many Colored Coat (1960), A Passion in Rome (1961), A Fine and Private Place (1975), A Time for Judas (1983), Our Lady of the Snows (1985). His last novel was A Wild Old Man Down the Road (1988). Publications of short stories have appeared in The Lost and Found Stories of Morley Callaghan (1985), and in The New Yorker Stories (2001). The four-volume The Complete Stories (2003) collects for the first time 90 of his stories.

Callaghan was also a contributor to The New Yorker, Harper's Bazaar, Maclean's, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, Yale Review, New World, Performing Arts in Canada, and Twentieth Century Literature.

Callaghan married Loretto Dee, with whom he had two sons: Michael (born November 1931) and Barry (born 1937), a poet and author in his own right. Barry Callaghan's memoir Barrelhouse Kings (1998), examines his career and that of his father. After outliving most of his contemporaries, Callaghan died after a brief illness in Toronto at the age of 87. He was interred in Mount Hope Catholic Cemetery in Ontario.


Callaghan often walked the Glen Road bridge near his Toronto home, as confirmed by a historic plaque

Callaghan was awarded the Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal in 1960. In 1982 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.[3]

Morley Callaghan is the subject of a CBC Television Life and Times episode, and the CBC mini-series, Hemingway Vs. Callaghan, which first aired in March 2003.

From 1951 until his death in 1990, the author had lived in the Rosedale, Toronto area, at 20 Dale Avenue.[4] A historic plaque at the nearby Glen Road footbridge summarizes Callaghan's noteworthy writing career and the most significant of his literary contemporaries, including Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald.[5]

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. Callaghan was chosen for one of the English-Canadian stamps.[6]




Short fiction[edit]


  • That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Some Others - 1963[7]
  • Winter - 1974


Film adaptations[edit]

Further reading[edit]


  • Boire, Gary A., Morley Callaghan and His Works - 1990
  • Boire, Gary A., Morley Callaghan: Literary Anarchist - 1994
  • Cameron, Donald, Conversations with Canadian Novelists, Part Two - 1973
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 3 - 1975
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 14 - 1980
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 41 - 1987
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Volume 65 - 1991
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 68: Canadian Writers, 1920–1959, First Series - 1988
  • Morley, Patricia, Morley Callaghan - 1978
  • Orange, John, Orpheus in Winter: Morley Callaghan's The Loved and the Lost - 1993
  • Sutherland, Fraser, The Style of Innocence - 1972
  • Wilson, Edmund, O Canada - 1965
  • Woodcock, George, Moral Predicament: Morley Callaghan's More Joy in Heaven - 1993


  • Books in Canada, April, 1986, pp. 32–33.
  • Canadian Forum, March, 1960; February, 1968.
  • Canadian Literature, summer, 1964
  • Canadian Literature, winter, 1984, pp. 66–69.
  • Canadian Literature, autumn, 1990, pp. 148–49.
  • Dalhousie Review, autumn, 1959.
  • Essays on Canadian Writing, winter, 1984–85, pp. 309– 15
  • Essays on Canadian Writing, summer, 1990, pp. 16–20.
  • Form and Century, April, 1934.
  • New Republic, February 9, 1963.
  • New Yorker, November 26, 1960.
  • Queen's Quarterly, autumn, 1957
  • Queen's Quarterly, autumn, 1989, pp. 717–19.
  • Saturday Night, October, 1983, pp. 73–74.
  • Tamarack Review, winter, 1962.
  • American Spectator, February, 1991.


  1. ^ "Morley Callaghan". The Canadian Encyclopedia, April 2, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Clara Thomas, Canadian Novelists 1920-1945, Longmans, Green and Comoany, Toronto, 1946 p. 17-18
  3. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. Order of Canada citation. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 26 May 2010
  4. ^ "Following the Footsteps of Toronto's Past Greats". National Post. 30 June 2018. Retrieved 23 November 2019. Amelia Earhart, Morley Callaghan and Lester B. Pearson are among those whose past homes have been honoured with blue plaques
  5. ^ "Toronto's Historical Plaques". Tronto Plaques. 11 July 2016. Retrieved 23 November 2019. Morley Callaghan wrote 18 novels and over 100 short stories, all about Canadians. Critically acclaimed around the world
  6. ^ "50th Anniversary of the National Library / Canadian Authors" Archived 2009-09-23 at the Wayback Machine, Canada Post, Web, March 28, 2011.
  7. ^ "Review of That Summer in Paris by Morely Callaghan". Kirkus Reviews. 14 January 1962.

External links[edit]