“I can’t read historical fiction because I find the real thing so much more interesting.”




Mary Queen of Scots, after François Cloutier, Wikipedia



The above quote is from Antonia Fraser, renowned for her historical biographies on (to name a few):  Mary Queen of Scots; Cromwell, the Lord Protector; King James VI of Scotland, 1 of England; King Charles II; The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s lot in 17th century England;  The Warrior Queens;  The Wives of Henry VIII; Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot; Marie Antoinette; Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King; Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill of 1832.

In addition, she has written a series of mystery novels (Jemima Shore), memoirs, contributed to anthologies and edited books. She was also newsworthy for her relationship with Harold Pinter, the exceptionally influential British dramatist. For her services to literature, she has received the title Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE).

With a bibliography of 36 publications, so far, Helle Kraav explained Antonia Fraser’s incredible output being, in part, a gift of being able to speed read at a very young age. She grew up in a home where debate and discussion abounded. She was encouraged to have limitless imagination and ambition. She was allowed to read anything at hand. Her fame took off in 1969 with the publication of Mary Queen of Scots. Using original documents and her own research, she wanted readers to see Mary in the context of the times she lived. Fraser’s factual research on historical figures and events has stood the test of time.

Don’t miss Helle Kraav’s summary of Antonia Fraser, here.

Wanderlust? Read Pico Iyer.

Photograph of a woman with backpack

Image courtesy photographer Jeremy Bishop, Unsplash

Janet Samber is one of our Club’s most intrepid travelers. So it’s not surprising when she shared her favorite author, travel writer Pico Iyer.  Iyer has brought something new and important to the genre. By acutely observing our emerging global culture, his travelogues moved into social criticism, philosophizing on the effects of travel on the traveler, and the traveler’s effect on the places traveled to.

But he writes so much more, as well.

There is much more to learn about this amazing author, here.




Shane Book, U of C’s Writer-in-Residence, was our guest speaker

Introducing our guest speaker, Margaret Sparkes noted the appropriateness of having poet Shane Book on March 21, World Poetry Day!

Shane gave our group an illuminating and fascinating presentation on his life’s journey and how he ended up becoming a renowned writer and filmmaker. As the child of a Canadian father and a Trinidadian mother, he was born in Peru and spent several years as a child in Ghana, as his father worked for the Canadian International Developmental Agency as an economist and diplomat. They later returned to Canada where he lived in Vancouver and Ottawa.

While at the University of Victoria and New York University, he began to study poetry in earnest. He also began to seriously want to make movies.

His philosophy is that everything comes from poetry.  Many novelists say they are failed poets. Poetry forces the writer to pay attention to each word. Poetry also trains the ear.

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Join Karen Connelly in person, April 18

In March 2016, Judi Lee gave a presentation on Calgary-born author Karen Connelly.

Here’s Judi’s summary.

Karen Connelly will be presenting her new novel, The Change Room, on April 18, 7-8:30 p.m. at the Memorial Park Library. See Wordfest.com for details.


“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”


I wandered lonely as a cloud

Image courtesy lakedistrict.gov.uk/learning/freephotos



When I read that to celebrate International Cloud Day (March 23) the World Meteorological Society had updated its cloud atlas online,  my response was to recall William Wordsworth’s poem,  “I wandered lonely as a cloud. . .”  Then on Tuesday Neelima Shankardass gave us a wonderful portrait of this poet reviewing his life and work. She enhanced her presentation with visuals onscreen of the houses he lived in, including Dove Cottage, and views of The Lake District where he worked in the solitude which inspired his beautiful creations.

Della Mae Wood

Don’t miss Neelima’s summary, here!