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James Reaney (1926-       )

James Reaney was born near Stratford, Ontario. He studied English at University College, University of Toronto (M.A. 1949) then taught it at the University of Manitoba from 1949 to 1956. He completed his doctorate, on the influence of Spenser on Yeats, at the University of Toronto in 1958. His supervisor was Northrop Frye. His long residence in London, Ontario began with a teaching appointment at the University of Western Ontario in 1960, the same year he started the magazine Alphabet, which focussed on the 'iconography of the imagination'. His first book of poems, The red heart (1949), won the Governor General's Award. His subsequent books, A suit of nettles (1958) and Twelve letters to a small town (1962) also won Canada's top literary prize. The dance of death at London, Ontario, with drawings by Jack Chambers, appeared in 1963. All four smaller collections were included in Poems (1972). Selected shorter (1975) and Longer poems (1976), edited by Germaine Warkentin, included extensive introductions by Reaney. Twelve letters to a small town was set to music by John Beckwith and broadcast on the CBC in 1961. His dramatic writing continued with such plays as The Killdeer, Colours in the dark, Listen to the wind, and most importantly, his trilogy, The Donnellys.