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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Nellie McClungAs I read and thought and marveled, a light shone around me. I knew in that radiance what a writer can be at his best, an interpreter, a revealer of secrets, a heavenly surgeon, a sculptor who can bring an angel out of a stone.

And I wanted to write. . . .I wanted to reveal humanity; to make people understand each other; to make the commonplace things divine. . .

                                                                                            —Nellie McClung

Although Nellie McClung dreamed of being a writer, it took a kick-start from her mother-in-law to launch her career. Mrs. Annie McClung urged her to enter a short story contest, for which Nellie wrote that was later to be the first chapter of her first novel, Sowing Seeds in Danny. Although her short story did not win the prize, a kind letter from the judges gave her the encouragement she needed to develop into a prolific and much-loved writer.

McClung wrote many novels and short stories, as well as articles for newspapers and such magazines as Maclean's, Canadian Home Journal, Country Guide, Chatelaine, and Onward. She wrote on topics ranging from marriage, suffrage, war, balancing a career and family, and women's role in the church.

Her novels are sometimes criticized for being didactic or "preachy" because she used them as platforms to deal with issues of her concern. In her Pearlie Watson trilogy, for example, her hero teaches school (as McClung herself did) but also becomes involved in agitating for female suffrage, the difficulties associated with alcohol, redefining the marriage relationship, and taking on the issue of matrimonial property rights (or lack thereof).

Each of the aforementioned issues were such that McClung herself felt were important. It was only natural that they should surface in her fiction, and that the world she created would reflect both the realities of the world in which she lived, as well as her ideals.  

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