The Development of Ethel Wilson's Swamp Angel: An Assessment of the Current State of Knowledge and Areas for Future Research
This project analyzes the development of Ethel Wilson’s Swamp Angel and assesses the ways in which a future critical edition of the novel could be more comprehensive than previously published editions. The history of this canonical Canadian novel has been left mostly unexplored and may have been intentionally concealed in some published editions. By inspecting archival materials, including Wilson’s correspondence, I examine how Wilson’s relationships with her editors influenced the different published versions of the novel, which feature two different endings to the story. This paper considers how Wilson’s friendship with John Gray, her editor at Macmillan, may have helped to produce a more poetic and Modernist version of the book in the original Canadian edition than in the American edition published by Harper, which were simultaneously published in 1954. The project also considers how some of Wilson’s publishers may have prioritized lower printing costs or convenience over publishing what they deemed to be the better version of the novel. Additionally, by examining Wilson’s manuscript, I discover that more than four different versions to the end of Wilson’s novel may have existed, as opposed to just two. Having studied ten versions of Wilson’s novel first-hand and the secondary resources most relevant to the development of Swamp Angel, such as the critical edition of the novel by Li-Ping Geng and the critical biography of Ethel Wilson by David Stouck, I suggest how a future critical edition of the novel could be more useful to scholars and more descriptive regarding the novel’s evolution.
Swamp Angel, Ethel Wilson, Canadian Literature, Publishing History, Critical Edition, Cultural Studies
Master of Arts (M.A.)