Jean Margaret Laurence (née Wemyss, 18 July 1926 5 January 1987) was a Canadian author. A mainstay of Canadian high school and university classes, her work won two Governor General's Awards and she held the Order of Canada.
Some of her well-known works include:
- The Stone Angel : A 1964 novel about an elderly woman in a nursing home, looking back at her life. Made into a movie starring Ellen Burstyn and Ellen Page.
- The Diviners (1974) : A 1974 novel about a writer and her various relationships. Made into a movie.
- A Jest Of God : A 1966 novel about a school teacher who has an affair. Made into the film Rachel, Rachel.
- A Bird In The House : A 1970 collection of short stories.
All of the above works are part of Laurence's "Manawaka cycle," set in the fictional small town of Manawaka, Manitoba.
Some tropes associated with Mrs. Laurence's work include:
- Disappeared Dad / Parental Abandonment : A common theme. Morag is an orphan who grows up to be a single parent. Jules Tonnere is raised by his father. Rachel's mother is a widow. Hagar's father disowns her and she has strained relationships with her sons. And so on.
- A Dog Named "Dog" : The grandmother doesn't believe in naming pets, so she calls the titular canary "Bird," in A Bird In The House.
- Magical Native American : Averted with the Tonnere family. They live in a tarpaper shack at the edge of town and are portrayed realistically, if tragically.
- Moral Guardians: Her novels were frequently banned for their sexual themes and "blasphemous" content.
- Name's the Same : Dan Conner.
- No Communities Were Harmed : Manawaka is a fictional town, based on her home town of Neepawa, Manitoba. Also the town Morag moves to in the last arc is based on Lakefield, Ontario, where the author lived out the last few years of her life.
- Small Towns : Manawaka, obviously, a Dying Town whose residents (especially the younger ones) suffer from Small Town Boredom, at best. At worst, Manawaka is Dysfunction Junction.
- Teacher/Student Romance : Morag marries her first-year literature professor.
- The Great Depression : Part of the setting for both The Diviners (1974) and The Stone Angel.