Sylvia Fraser

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Sylvia Fraser (born 8 March 1935 in Hamilton, Ontario) is a Canadian novelist, journalist and travel writer. Fraser was educated at the University of Western Ontario. In her long year career as a journalist, she has written hundreds of articles, beginning as a feature writer for the Toronto Star Weekly (1957–68), and continuing with articles for many other magazines and newspapers including The Globe and Mail, Saturday Night, Chatelaine, The Walrus and Toronto Life. She taught creative writing for many years at Banff Centre and at various university workshops. She has participated in extensive media tours, given lectures and readings throughout Canada, the United States, Britain and Sweden. She served on the Arts Advisory Panel to the Canada Council and was a member of Canada Council's 1985 cultural delegation to China. She was a founding member of the Writers' Union of Canada and for many years was on the executive of the Writers' Trust of Canada, a charitable organization for the support of Canadian authors and literature. Fraser lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Early life and education[edit]

Fraser was born in Hamilton, Ontario. Her father worked for a steel company and her mother was involved in church and community work.[1] After working for several years working as a journalist, she began writing novels after the magazine she wrote for went out of business.[2]

Fraser was repeatedly sexually abused by her father from her early childhood to her late teens, which became a recurring topic in several of her fiction and non-fiction works, including Pandora, My Father's House, The Book of Strange, and The Ancestral Suitcase.[3] However, she repressed these memories for most of her life, and did not remember them until she began writing about it in these works.[2]


Fraser's first novel, Pandora, tells the story of a young girl who is sexually abused by the man who delivers bread to her house.[2] It was highly regarded for its prose and launched Fraser's career in Canadian Literature.[2]

Fraser's 1987 memoir, My Father's House, recounts the sexual abuse committed to her by her father throughout her childhood. It won the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award for non-fiction.[3] Scholars have asserted that it sets an exemplary model of the process of surviving trauma.[4]

Her subsequent books, The Book of Strange (1992, since republished as The Quest for the Fourth Monkey) and The Ancestral Suitcase (1996) deal with nonlinear time, reincarnation, and memory.[3]


  • Pandora - 1972
  • The Candy Factory - 1975
  • A Casual Affair - 1978
  • The Emperor's Virgin - 1980
  • Berlin Solstice - 1984
  • My Father's House - 1987
  • The Book of Strange - 1992
  • The Ancestral Suitcase - 1996
  • The Rope in the Water: A Pilgrimage to India - 2001
  • The Green Labyrinth: Exploring the Mysteries of the Amazon - 2003

CHILDREN'S FICTION: Tom & Francine (1998). EDITOR: A Woman's Place: seventy years in the lives of Canadian Women (1997).

Awards and honours[edit]

Women's Press Club, 1967 and 1968.

President's Medal, for Canadian journalism, 1968.

Canadian Authors' Association Non-Fiction Book Award, 1987 for My Father's House.

Feminist Book Fortnight Selection, U.K., 1987. My Father's House.

American Library Association Booklist Medal,1994, for The Quest for the Fourth Monkey.

National Magazine Gold Medal, 1994, 2004, 2005.

National Magazine Silver Medal, 1996 & 2002.

Western Magazine Gold Medal, 2006.

Phoenix Women Rising Award, 2007 inaugural, Sexual Abuse Centre, London.

The Matt Cohen A Writer's Life Award for lifetime literary achievement.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Toye, William., Benson, Eugene. (2nd ed.). Toronto: Oxford University Press. 1997. ISBN 0195411676. OCLC 39624837.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Matchan, Linda (June 27, 1988). "Pandora finds her self". The Boston Globe. ProQuest 294383571.
  3. ^ a b c "Writer banishes shadows: in both fiction and non-fiction, Sylvia Fraser has worked hard to connect the pieces of a life shattered by the dark secret of sexual abuse". The Globe and Mail. March 26, 1996. ProQuest 384963246.
  4. ^ Clegg, Christine (Spring 1999). "Feminist Recoveries in "My Father's House"". Feminist Review. 61: 67–83. doi:10.1080/014177899339306. S2CID 144841423. ProQuest 1300474604.