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Alice Munro
Alice Munro
Alice Munro
Born Alice Ann Laidlaw
10 July 1931 (1931-07-10) (age 90)
Wingham, Ontario, Canada
Occupation Short-story writer
Language English
Alma mater The University of Western Ontario
Genre Short stories, Realism, Southern Ontario Gothic
Notable awards Governor General's Award (1968, 1978, 1986)
Giller Prize (1998, 2004)
Man Booker International Prize (2009)
Nobel Prize in Literature (2013)
James Munro
(m. 1951; div. 1972)
Gerald Fremlin
(m. 1976; died 2013)
Children 4

Alice Ann Munro (born 10 July 1931) is a Canadian short story writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. In her stories Munro has changed the way people write short stories. Her stories usually start in a place where people do not expect. After that, the stories go back and forward in time.

Munro's fiction is most often set in her native Huron County in southwestern Ontario. Munro is the recipient of many literary accolades, including the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature for her work as "master of the contemporary short story", and the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. She is also a three-time winner of Canada's Governor General's Award for fiction and was the recipient of the Writers' Trust of Canada's 1996 Marian Engel Award, as well as the 2004 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize for Runaway.

Early life and education

Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw in Wingham, Ontario. Her father, Robert Eric Laidlaw, was a fox and mink farmer, and later turned to turkey farming. Her mother, Anne Clarke Laidlaw (née Chamney), was a schoolteacher. She is of Irish and Scottish descent, her father being a direct descendant of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd.

Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story, "The Dimensions of a Shadow", in 1950 while studying English and journalism at the University of Western Ontario under a two-year scholarship. During this period she worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker, and a library clerk.

In 1951, she left the university, where she had been majoring in English since 1949, to marry fellow student James Munro. They moved to Dundarave, West Vancouver, for James's job in a department store. In 1963, the couple moved to Victoria, where they opened Munro's Books, which still operates.


Munro's highly acclaimed first collection of stories, Dance of the Happy Shades (1968), won the Governor General's Award, then Canada's highest literary prize. That success was followed by Lives of Girls and Women (1971), a collection of interlinked stories. In 1978, Munro's collection of interlinked stories Who Do You Think You Are? was published (titled The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose in the United States). This book earned Munro a second Governor General's Literary Award. From 1979 to 1982, she toured Australia, China and Scandinavia for public appearances and readings. In 1980 Munro held the position of writer in residence at both the University of British Columbia and the University of Queensland.

Since the 1980s, Munro has published a short-story collection at least once every four years, most recently in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2009, and 2012. Her collections have been translated into thirteen languages.

On 10 October 2013, Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, cited as a "master of the contemporary short story". She is the first Canadian and the 13th woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Almost twenty of Munro's works have been made available for free on the web. However, in most cases these are the first versions only.

Film adaptations of Munro's short stories have included Martha, Ruth and Edie (1988), Edge of Madness (2002), Away from Her (2006), Hateship, Loveship (2013) and Julieta (2016).


Many of Munro's stories are set in Huron County, Ontario. Her strong regional focus is one of the features of her fiction. Another is the omniscient narrator who serves to make sense of the world.

A frequent theme of her work, particularly evident in her early stories, has been the dilemmas of a girl coming of age and coming to terms with her family and the small town she grew up in. In recent work she has shifted her focus to the travails of middle age, of women alone, and of the elderly.

It is a mark of her style for characters to experience a revelation that sheds light on, and gives meaning to, an event.

Creating new versions

Munro publishes variant versions of her stories, sometimes within a short span of time. Her works "Save the Reaper" and "Passion" came out in two different versions in the same year, in 1998 and 2004 respectively.

Personal life

Munro married James Munro in 1951. Their daughters Sheila, Catherine, and Jenny were born in 1953, 1955, and 1957 respectively; Catherine died the day of her birth due to the lack of functioning kidneys.

In 1963, the Munros moved to Victoria where they opened Munro's Books, a popular bookstore still in business. In 1966, their daughter Andrea was born. Alice and James Munro divorced in 1972.

Munro returned to Ontario to become writer in residence at the University of Western Ontario, and in 1976 received an honorary LLD from the institution. In 1976, she married Gerald Fremlin, a cartographer and geographer she met in her university days. The couple moved to a farm outside Clinton, Ontario, and later to a house in Clinton, where Fremlin died on 17 April 2013, aged 88. Munro and Fremlin also owned a home in Comox, British Columbia.

At a Toronto appearance in October 2009, Munro indicated that she had received treatment for cancer and for a heart condition requiring coronary-artery bypass surgery.

In 2002, her daughter Sheila Munro published a childhood memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up With Alice Munro.


Original short-story collections

  • Dance of the Happy Shades – 1968 (winner of the 1968 Governor General's Award for Fiction)
  • Lives of Girls and Women – 1971 (winner of the Canadian Bookseller's Award)
  • Something I've Been Meaning to Tell You – 1974
  • Who Do You Think You Are? – 1978 (winner of the 1978 Governor General's Award for Fiction; also published as The Beggar Maid; short-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1980)
  • The Moons of Jupiter – 1982 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
  • The Progress of Love – 1986 (winner of the 1986 Governor General's Award for Fiction)
  • Friend of My Youth – 1990 (winner of the Trillium Book Award)
  • Open Secrets – 1994 (nominated for a Governor General's Award)
  • The Love of a Good Woman – 1998 (winner of the 1998 Giller Prize and the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award)
  • Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage – 2001 (republished as Away From Her)
  • Runaway – 2004 (winner of the Giller Prize and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize) ISBN: 1-4000-4281-X
  • The View from Castle Rock – 2006
  • Too Much Happiness – 2009
  • Dear Life – 2012

Short-story compilations

  • Selected Stories (later retitled Selected Stories 1968–1994 and A Wilderness Station: Selected Stories, 1968–1994) – 1996
  • No Love Lost – 2003
  • Vintage Munro – 2004
  • Alice Munro's Best: A Selection of Stories – Toronto 2006 / Carried Away: A Selection of Stories – New York 2006; both 17 stories (spanning 1977–2004) with an introduction by Margaret Atwood
  • New Selected Stories – 2011
  • Lying Under the Apple Tree. New Selected Stories, 434 pages, 15 stories, c Alice Munro 2011, Vintage, London 2014, ISBN: 978-0-0995-9377-5 (paperback)
  • Family Furnishings: Selected Stories 1995–2014 – 2014

Selected awards and honours


  • Governor General's Literary Award for English language fiction (1968, 1978, 1986)
  • Canadian Booksellers Award for Lives of Girls and women (1971)
  • Shortlisted for the annual (UK) Booker Prize for Fiction (1980) for The Beggar Maid
  • The Writers' Trust of Canada's Marian Engel Award (1986) for her body of work
  • Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize (2004) for Runaway
  • Trillium Book Award for Friend of My Youth (1991), The Love of a Good Woman (1999) and Dear Life (2013)
  • WH Smith Literary Award (1995, UK) for Open Secrets
  • Lannan Literary Award for Fiction (1995)
  • PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction (1997)
  • National Book Critics Circle Award (1998, U.S.) For The Love of a Good Woman
  • Giller Prize (1998 and 2004)
  • Rea Award for the Short Story (2001) given to a living American or Canadian author.
  • Libris Award
  • Edward MacDowell Medal for outstanding contribution to the arts by the MacDowell Colony (2006).
  • O. Henry Award for continuing achievement in short fiction in the U.S. for "Passion" (2006), "What Do You Want To Know For" (2008) and "Corrie" (2012)
  • Man Booker International Prize (2009, UK)
  • Canada-Australia Literary Prize
  • Commonwealth Writers Prize Regional Award for Canada and the Caribbean.
  • Nobel Prize in Literature (2013) as a "master of the contemporary short story".


  • 1992: Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • 1993: Royal Society of Canada's Lorne Pierce Medal
  • 2005: Medal of Honor for Literature from the U.S. National Arts Club
  • 2010: Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters
  • 2014: Silver coin released by the Royal Canadian Mint in honour of Munro's Nobel Prize win
  • 2015: Postage stamp released by Canada Post in honour of Munro's Nobel Prize win
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