Alice Munro Biography

(Canadian Short Story Writer and Winner of 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature)

Birthday: July 10, 1931 (Cancer)

Born In: Wingham, Canada

Alice Munro, born Alice Ann Laidlaw, was a Canadian writer who won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature and the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 for her lifetime body of work. She specializes in short story writing and is known for her easy-to-read and moving style that explores human complexities effortlessly. She was regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of fiction. The focus of her stories was her native place, southwestern Ontario, and she often described the local people, their aspirations, and lifestyles in her writings. She began writing as a teenager and published her first story as a student. Her first collection of stories, ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ was highly appreciated and won the Governor General's Award, Canada’s highest literary prize. Her strong regional focus and complex female characters were characteristic of her writings. Most of her works belonged to the literary genre known as Southern Ontario Gothic. One recurrent theme in the stories she wrote in her youth was that of a girl coming of age and dealing with the associated challenges and confusions. Maturing as a writer and a woman, the focus of her stories shifted to the challenges faced by middle-aged and elderly women. 

Quick Facts

Canadian Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Alice Ann Laidlaw, Alice Ann Munro

Died At Age: 92


Spouse/Ex-: Gerald Fremlin, James Munro

father: Robert Eric Laidlaw

mother: Anne Clarke Laidlaw

children: Sheila Catherine Jenny

Born Country: Canada

Quotes By Alice Munro Nobel Laureates In Literature

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Females

Died on: May 13, 2024

place of death: Port Hope, Ontario, Canada

Notable Alumni: The University Of Western Ontario

More Facts

education: The University Of Western Ontario

awards: 1968 - Governor General's Award for Fiction
1978 - Governor General's Award for Fiction
1986 - Governor General's Award for Fiction

1990 - Trillium Book Award
1998 - Giller Prize
2004 - Giller Prize

  • 1

    What are some common themes in Alice Munro's short stories?

    Some common themes in Alice Munro's short stories include relationships, identity, memory, and the complexities of human emotions.

  • 2

    How did Alice Munro's writing style evolved over the years?

    Alice Munro's writing style evolved from more traditional narrative structures to more experimental and fragmented forms, reflecting her exploration of new storytelling techniques.

  • 3

    What impact Alice Munro had on the literary world?

    Alice Munro is widely regarded as a master of the short story genre and has influenced numerous writers with her keen observations of human nature and intricate storytelling.

  • 4

    How did Alice Munro depict the Canadian landscape in her works?

    Alice Munro often used the Canadian landscape as a backdrop for her stories, portraying it as both beautiful and harsh, and incorporating it as a significant element in the lives of her characters.

Childhood & Early Life

Alice Munro was born in Ontario, Canada, to Robert Eric Laidlaw and Anne Clarke. Her father was a fox and poultry farmer while her mother was a school teacher.

In 1949, she joined the University of Ontario to pursue a course in English. She did not complete her degree and left the university to get married in 1951.

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Alice Munro and her then husband James Munro opened a bookstore, Munro’s Books in Victoria in 1963. Her first collection of short stories, ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ was published in 1968. It became an instant hit and received critical acclaim.

Her only novel, ‘Lives of Girls and Women’ was published in 1971. The book is a collection of interrelated stories revolving around the life of a single character, Del Jordan. Many feminist ideas and concepts are discussed in the novel.

After her divorce from James in 1972, she returned to Ontario and became Writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario.

In 1974, she published another book of short stories, titled, ‘Something I've been meaning to tell you.’ It also included the short story, ‘How I Met My Husband.’

Her collection of short stories, ‘Who do you think you are?’ was published in 1978 in Canada. In countries outside Canada, the same book was published under the title, ‘The Beggar Maid.’
She embarked on a three year long inter-continental tour of Australia, China and Scandinavia in 1979. While touring, she held the position of writer-in-residence at the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland.
During the 1980-90’s, Munro started publishing in a particular pattern —one book every four years. Her book ‘The Moons of Jupiter’ was published in 1982. It included stories like ‘Dulse’, ‘The Turkey Season’ and ‘Accident.’
In 1986, she came out with the award winning book ‘The Progress of Love’, and followed it with ‘Friend of my Youth’ in 1990 which had stories like ‘Friend of My Youth’ and ‘Five Points.’

She wrote two other books in the 1990’s: ‘Open Secrets’ (1994) and ‘The Love of a Good Woman’ (1998). This book dealt with themes like love, secrets and betrayal.

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Her book ‘Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage’ was published in 2001. The story, ‘The Bear Came over the Mountain’ was made into a film titled ‘Away from Her’ in 2006. It was directed by Sarah Polley.
Her 2004 collection of short stories ‘Runaway’ has eight stories, each of which deal with women and the complex relationships they have with others in their life.
She published a collection of historical and autobiographical stories titled ‘The View from Castle Rock’ in 2006. The first part of the book is a narration about the Laidlaw family tree starting from the 18th century while the second part contains fictionalized accounts of events from the author’s life.

Her final works included ‘Too Much Happiness’ (2009) and ‘Dear Life’ (2012). Several compilations of her short stories were also published.

Major Works

She created a literary sensation with her highly acclaimed first collection of stories, ‘Dance of the Happy Shades’ published in 1968. It went on to win the renowned Governor General’s Award for English fiction.

Her 1978 book of short stories ‘Who Do You Think you Are?’ was a critically acclaimed work of fiction that won for her another Governor General’s Award. The book was published as ‘The Beggar maid’ outside of Canada.

‘Runaway’, published in 2004 was a collection of short stories about the lives of women and the complicated human relationships they found themselves in. The book won the Giller Prize for that year.

Awards & Achievements

She received the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction thrice—1968, 1978, and 1986. This is a very prestigious award honouring those who make a distinction in the literary field.

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The PEN/Malamud Award was bestowed upon her in 1997 for "excellence in the art of the short story."

She won the Giller Prize twice—for ‘The Love of a Good Woman’ in 1998 and for ‘Runaway’ in 2004.

She was named the winner of the Man Booker International Prize in 2009 for her lifetime body of work. The prize is awarded to honour an author’s "continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage."

She won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature for her lifetime body of work. She was the 13th woman to win the prize.

Personal Life & Legacy

She married James Munro in 1951 and had four daughters with him. They were divorced in 1972.

She married Gerald Fremlin, a geographer, in 1976. They remained married till his death in 2013.

As a writer, Munro influenced many others like Margaret Atwood, William Trevor, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Jonathan Franzen.

She passed on May 13, 2024, at the age of 92 in her home in Port Hope, Ontario. 

Facts About Alice Munro

Alice Munro was known for her love of gardening and often incorporated themes of nature and the natural world in her writing.

Munro once worked as a waitress and a library clerk before gaining recognition as a writer, showing her diverse range of experiences.

She was known for her humility and down-to-earth personality, often shying away from the spotlight despite her literary acclaim.

Munro was a self-proclaimed introvert and preferred spending time in solitude, which she credited to her ability to observe and capture human emotions in her stories.

In addition to her literary achievements, Munro was also an advocate for literacy and has supported various initiatives to promote reading and writing in communities.

See the events in life of Alice Munro in Chronological Order

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