Authors: Morley Callaghan

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Canadian novelist and short-story writer

Author Works

Long Fiction:

Strange Fugitive, 1928

It’s Never Over, 1930

No Man’s Meat, 1931 (novella)

A Broken Journey, 1932

Such Is My Beloved, 1934

They Shall Inherit the Earth, 1935

More Joy in Heaven, 1937

The Varsity Story, 1948

The Loved and the Lost, 1951

The Many Coloured Coat, 1960

A Passion in Rome, 1961

A Fine and Private Place, 1975

Season of the Witch, 1976

Close to the Sun Again, 1977

“No Man’s Meat” and “The Enchanted Pimp,” 1978

A Time for Judas, 1983

Our Lady of the Snows, 1985

A Wild Old Man on the Road, 1988

Short Fiction:

A Native Argosy, 1929

Now That April’s Here, and Other Stories, 1936

Morley Callaghan’s Stories, 1959

The Lost and Found Stories of Morley Callaghan, 1985

Drama:

Turn Home Again, pr. 1940 (also known as Going Home)

To Tell the Truth, pr. 1949

Season of the Witch, pb. 1976

Nonfiction:

That Summer in Paris: Memories of Tangled Friendships with Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Some Others, 1963

Winter, 1974

Children’s/Young Adult Literature:

Luke Baldwin’s Vow, 1948

Biography

The writing career of Edward Morley Callaghan (KAL-uh-han), one of Canada’s foremost novelists, began in the 1920’s and spanned more than six decades. Born in Toronto to an Irish Catholic family, he attended Withrow Public School and Riverdale Collegiate before attending St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, where he earned a B.A. in general arts in 1925 and subsequently enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School. While an undergraduate he took a part-time position as a reporter with the Toronto Daily Star. In 1923, while working there, he met Ernest Hemingway, who read some of Callaghan’s stories and urged him to keep writing.{$I[AN]9810001135}{$I[A]Callaghan, Morley}{$I[geo]CANADA;Callaghan, Morley}{$I[tim]1903;Callaghan, Morley}

Morley Callaghan

(John Martin)

Callaghan published his first short story, “A Girl with Ambition,” in This Quarter, a Parisian magazine, in 1962 (the story was one that Hemingway had commended). In that same year, he visited New York briefly and met several writers, including Ford Madox Ford, Katherine Anne Porter, and William Carlos Williams. By the time he graduated from law school in 1928, Callaghan had established himself as a writer. He had published several short stories in American and European magazines, had a story (“A Country Passion”) selected for inclusion in an anthology edited by J. Edward O’Brien, and had seen the publication of his first novel, Strange Fugitive. Set in the days of Prohibition, the novel introduced a theme that was to recur in Callaghan’s novels: the alienation of the social outcast. One year later, he published a collection of short stories, A Native Argosy, and with his wife, Loretto Florence Dee, traveled to Paris, where they spent the summer in the company of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. His experiences with these writers are recorded in That Summer in Paris.

In 1930, after residing for about eight months in a farmhouse in Pennsylvania and a hotel in New York City, he returned to take up permanent residence in Toronto and began publishing a book a year until 1937. His most notable novels of this period are Such Is My Beloved and More Joy in Heaven. During the next decade, a period Callaghan saw as “the dark period” of his life, he produced very little. He turned his attention to writing reviews and articles on current events and to adapting They Shall Inherit the Earth as a play he retitled Turn Home Again. He wrote another play, To Tell the Truth; a novel for juvenile readers, Luke Baldwin’s Vow; and The Varsity Story, a fictionalized history of the traditions of the University of Toronto.

In 1951, he returned to serious fiction with a novel that is considered to be among his best, The Loved and the Lost, which won that year’s Governor-General’s Literary Award for fiction. Nine years later, he published A Passion in Rome, his only novel with a non-Canadian setting, on which he had begun working after spending a few weeks in Rome on a journalistic assignment at the time of Pope Pius XII’s death in 1958. After another dry period of more than a decade, Callaghan published, at the age of seventy-two, A Fine and Private Place, which initiated another creative phase. The three novels that followed were well received and clearly showed (particularly Close to the Sun Again) that his creative ability had not waned.

Throughout his writing career, Callaghan published numerous short stories in European and North American magazines, many of which have been collected in A Native Argosy, Now That April’s Here, Morley Callaghan’s Stories, and The Lost and Found Stories of Morley Callaghan. Some critics consider his stories to be even more impressive than his novels. In all of his writing, Callaghan examines the moral and spiritual issues involved in the struggles of individuals, invariably outcasts on the fringe of society, to accommodate themselves to a society that perversely expects them to conform to its dubious standards. Up against a world that lacks common humanity, they are subjected to poverty, loss, fear, and betrayal.

Critics have complained that Callaghan’s novels tend to stereotype women, depicting them as either saints or wantons, as is evident in the early The Loved and the Lost and the later A Time for Judas. Callaghan’s protagonists, like Hemingway’s, tend to explore their private emotions and feelings in public places, and his prose is spare, compact, and lucid. Though he creates graphic scenes and brilliant character portraits, his settings and characters recurringly have symbolic and allegorical functions.

In 1965, critic Edmund Wilson identified Callaghan as “perhaps the most unjustly neglected novelist in the English-speaking world.” That situation changed as critics began to recognize Callaghan’s worth. Callaghan’s works increasingly attracted readers as well as scholars, and the writer was awarded a number of prestigious honors during his lifetime. He died in 1990 at the age of eighty-seven.

BibliographyBoire, Gary A. Morley Callaghan: Literary Anarchist. Toronto, Ont.: ECW Press, 1994. Illustrated biography addresses critic Edmund Wilson’s claim that Callaghan has been “the most unjustly neglected novelist in the English-speaking world.” Includes bibliographical references.Callaghan, Barry. Barrelhouse Kings. Toronto: McArthur, 1998. A memoir by Morley Callaghan’s son.Conron, Brandon. Morley Callaghan. New York: Twayne, 1966. Comprehensive, carefully organized analysis of Callaghan’s short fiction and novels up to A Passion in Rome. Straightforward style and format make this book accessible to students. Includes a useful biographical chronology and a selected bibliography.Cude, Wilfred. “Morley Callaghan’s Practical Monsters: Downhill from Where and When?” In Modern Times. Vol. 3 in The Canadian Novel, edited by John Moss. Toronto, Ont.: NC Press, 1982. Florid essay treats the darker side of Callaghan’s vision through a discussion of characterization in several of his short stories and in some of his novels, such as Luke Baldwin’s Vow and A Passion in Rome.Gadpaille, Michelle. The Canadian Short Story. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1988. Includes a brief discussion of Callaghan’s short-story writing career, commenting on his working-class characters, the simplicity of his style, and his contribution to the development of the modern Canadian short story.Gooch, Bryan N. S. “Callaghan.” Canadian Literature 126 (Autumn, 1990): 148-149. Discusses A Wild Old Man on the Road, comparing it with Such Is My Beloved and They Shall Inherit the Earth. Praises the novel’s compelling quality and suggests that this “short tense” fiction ranks with the best of Callaghan’s work.Hoar, Victor. Morley Callaghan. Toronto, Ont.: Copp Clark, 1969. Addresses the style and thematic concerns in Callaghan’s fiction to 1963 in two major sections, supporting the commentary with plentiful quotations from Callaghan’s works. Includes a useful bibliography.Kendle, Judith. “Morley Callaghan: An Annotated Bibliography.” In The Annotated Bibliography of Canada’s Major Authors, edited by Robert Lecker and Jack David. Vol. 5. Toronto, Ont.: ECW Press, 1984. Contains the most exhaustive listing of primary sources and secondary sources for Callaghan’s work up to 1984 that a student is likely to need. The categories cover the spectrum from books and articles to interviews to audiovisual material. “Index to Critics Listed in the Bibliography” is a helpful feature.Marin, Rick. “Morley Callaghan.” American Spectator 24 (February, 1991): 36-37. Biographical sketch notes that Callaghan was a famous literary figure in the 1920’s, when he was part of the Parisian expatriate set of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Asserts that Callaghan’s decision to remain in his native Toronto affected his status in the literary world but that he accepted his relative obscurity with resignation rather than bitterness.Morley, Patricia. Morley Callaghan. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1978. This study considers Callaghan’s fiction to the mid-1970’s, including thorough, useful analysis of his short fiction.Stuewe, Paul. “The Case of Morley Callaghan.” In Clearing the Ground: English-Canadian Fiction After “Survival.” Toronto, Ont.: Proper Tales Press, 1984. Lively and incisive essay takes Callaghan to task for sloppy writing and his critics to task for concentrating on Callaghan’s thematic concerns to the exclusion of his technical flaws.Tracey, Grant. “One Great Way to Read Short Stories: Studying Character Deflection in Morley Callaghan’s ‘All the Years of Her Life.’” In Short Stories in the Classroom, edited by Carole L. Hamilton and Peter Kratzke. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English, 1999. An analysis of the story through the perspective of how events affect and change a single character.Woodcock, George. Moral Predicament: Morley Callaghan’s “More Joy in Heaven.” Toronto, Ont.: ECW Press, 1993. One of a series of books designed to acquaint students with major works of Canadian literature. Presents analysis of Callaghan’s novel by a scholar who specializes in Canadian fiction.
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