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Budge Wilson

CM ONS
Born Budge Marjorie Archibald
(1927-05-02)May 2, 1927
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Died March 19, 2021(2021-03-19) (aged 93)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Language English
Nationality Canadian
Alma mater Dalhousie University
Notable works Before Green Gables, The Metaphor

Budge Marjorie Wilson CM ONS (née Archibald, May 2, 1927 – March 19, 2021) was a Canadian writer. She was noted for her work in children's literature.

Wilson started her career in writing in her fifties. Her first book was published in 1984, when she was 56. In total she wrote more than thirty books, mostly children's books, won several awards, and was a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia.

Early life

Wilson was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on May 2, 1927. Her father, Maynard Brown Archibald, was a judge; her mother was Helen MacGregor Archibald. Wilson studied philosophy and psychology at Dalhousie University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. She then undertook postgraduate studies at the University of Toronto from 1949 to 1951. She obtained a Diploma of Education in 1953, as well as a certificate in physical education.

Career

Wilson's first job was as a teacher of English and art at Halifax Ladies’ College for one year starting in 1951. She was subsequently employed by the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto from 1953 until 1957. There, she was responsible for filing, editing, and art work. After stints at the Toronto Public Library and Acadia University nursing school, Wilson went back to teaching in 1968. She became a fitness instructor at the Peterborough County Board of Education and Young Women’s Association in Peterborough, working in that capacity until 1987.

Wilson delved into writing full time starting in 1978. She published her first book, The Best/Worst Christmas Present Ever, in 1984 at the age of 56. She recounted that writing during the six-year interval was a challenge, describing how she was "getting pretty discouraged" by the fifth year. As of 2011 she had written 33 books. These include the prequel Before Green Gables, a celebratory centennial release to the Anne of Green Gables series. It became the largest-ever foreign rights sale for Penguin Canada, and was eventually adapted into an animated series in Japan titled Kon'nichiwa Anne: Before Green Gables. Wilson also authored The Leaving, a collection of short stories that won first prize in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Literary Competition for Adult Short Story in 1991. It won the Canadian Library Association Young Adult Book Award and the City of Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction that same year, and went on to be listed as one of "The 75 best children's books of the last 25 years" by the American Library Association in 1994. It was also shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in the Canada–Caribbean Region.

Other noted works of Wilson's include Lorinda's Diary and Thirteen Never Changes (1991). She dedicated her book Fractures (2002) to both her eleventh grade teacher and her English professor at Dalhousie. One of her final works was After Swissair (2016), a poetry collection chronicling the aftermath of the crash of Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia on September 2, 1998.

Honours and awards

Wilson received numerous awards for her work that include: 23 Canadian Children's Book Centre "Our Choice" selections, a Marianna Dempster Award, two Ann Connor Brimer Awards, a Canadian Authors Association Lilla Stirling Award, a National IODE (Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire) Violet Downey Award, an Atlantic Independent Booksellers Award, and an IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People) Honour Award. She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004, and received the Order of Nova Scotia in 2011. One year later, Wilson received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Wilson received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University (2010) and Mount Saint Vincent University (2012).

Personal life

Wilson married Alan Wilson in 1953. They met while studying at Dalhousie together. He was the founding chair of History Department and Canadian Studies at Trent University. Together, they had two children: Glynis and Andrea.

After living in Peterborough, Ontario, for 33 years, Wilson and her husband went back to Nova Scotia in 1989 and resided in Northwest Cove on St. Margarets Bay. During her later years, they moved into a retirement facility in Halifax.

Wilson died on March 19, 2021, at a hospital in Halifax. She was 93, and suffered from complications from a fall earlier that month.

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