Silenced Sextet: Six Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Novelists


226 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-7735-0945-3
DDC C810.9'9287




Reviewed by Thomas M.F. Gerry

Thomas M.F. Gerry is a professor of English at Laurentian University.


This effective collaborative project, combining cultural history and
literary criticism, illuminates the cultural scene in late 19th-century
Canada, revealing, for instance, the importance of religion in the
education of these writers and their audiences. The book also raises the
almost taboo topic of the deleterious effects of the British and
American modernist movements on Canada’s literature of the period,
especially that written by women.

The subjects of the six essays are Rosanna Mullins Leprohon, who
contributed fictional accounts of bicultural tensions in Quebec; May
Agnes Fleming, Canada’s first bestselling author; Margaret Murray
Robertson, who helped to shift the sentimental romance into a more
realistic and women-centred mode; Susan Frances Harrison
(“Seranus”), who elaborated Canadian themes of identity and the
dangers of cultural domination by external powers; Margaret Marshall
Saunders, the children’s literature author whose Beautiful Joe and
other animal stories remain popular; and Joanna E. Wood, who wrote in
the mode of rural realism on such feminist themes as women’s roles.
The balanced critical judgments offered in this volume will encourage
readers to seek out the works of these long-ignored novelists.


MacMillan, Carrie, Lorraine McMullen, and Elizabeth Waterston., “Silenced Sextet: Six Nineteenth-Century Canadian Women Novelists,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,