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Hugh Garner Biography

(1913–79), Storm Below, Cabbagetown, The Silence on the Shore, The Intruders, The Yellow Sweater

cabbagetown toronto life novels

Canadian novelist and short-story writer, born in Batley, Yorkshire, and taken to Canada when he was six. Garner is regarded as one of the major exponents of realism in Canadian fiction. During the 1930s he travelled in the West, eking out a living from whatever temporary employment he could find, and fought for the Loyalists in the Spanish Civil War. His Second World War naval experiences provided the basis for his first novel, Storm Below (1949), which describes six days at sea in 1943. Garner's early life in Cabbagetown, a run-down inner city district of Toronto, underlay Cabbagetown (1950) which initially appeared in a heavily edited version; only when the full text was published in 1968 did it receive critical acclaim as one of Canada's finest social novels. It is written in the clear and direct prose style that characterizes all Garner's fiction and describes the hardship of Depression life in working-class Toronto and the lack of opportunity afforded to the district's youth. Garner's other novels include The Silence on the Shore (1962) and The Intruders (1975), which gives an account of the gentrification of Cabbagetown. His other works include volumes of short stories, three crime novels with Toronto settings (The Yellow Sweater, 1952; Men and Women, 1966; and The Legs of the Lame, 1967), and an autobiography, One Damn Thing after Another (1974). He is the subject of a critical biography by Paul Steuwe: The Storms Below: The Life and Turbulent Times of Hugh Garner (1988).

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