As 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. . .
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
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.