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Canadian Authors and Their Literary Agents (pp 93-120)

Robert Lecker


This essay provides an account of Canadian authors and their literary agents, from 1890-1990, in the context of recent ideas about book history and the material production of texts. My aim is to provide a new way of understanding how Canadian literature was produced and disseminated during a century marked by enormous shifts in the status and conception of the author. The paper weaves together biography, history, economics, copyright law, government policies on culture, and literary analysis in order to illustrate the role that literary agents played in the formation of Canadian authors' careers. It seeks to correct the frequently made, but incorrect assertion that professional literary agencies were not operating in Canada until the 1950s. In providing a chronological overview of the connection between Canadian authors and their associations with professional and informal agents in Canada, the US, and Britain, the essay provides the beginnings of a more detailed history of the nature of literary collaboration that existed over a turbulent century.

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