Authors and Their Publishers

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In an age when Roland Barthes and other theorists have proclaimed the death of the author, it is an adage hardly worth mentioning: without authors there are no books. What is the experience of Canadian writers when they submit their manuscripts for publication? Many authors, especially poets (Archibald Lampman, for example), have been forced to publish their own works because a publisher would not risk publication financially. Prior to Canada’s Centennial and the emergence of a new generation of talented writers, authors such as Stephen Leacock sought publication outside of Canada in order to establish themselves internationally. In other cases, the success of a particular book radically altered an author’s career and good fortune (Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, for example). Authors such as Hugh Garner have fought with their publishers; others such as Sheila Watson and Alistair MacLeod have been championed by theirs. Interactions of authors with their publishers are central to an understanding of Canadian publishing history.