Emily Carr: A Biography by Maria Tippett

“Emily perceived the wilderness in two contrasting ways. One grew our of a European fear of it; the other was rooted in her conception of the special relationship Indians had with it.” (167)

“Oh, just let them open their eyes and look! It isn’t pretty. It’s only just magnificent, tremendous.” (speech to the Women’s Canadian Club, 1930)

“Emily liked ‘to work & create’; exhibition arrangements were dismissed with an ‘ugh’.” (203)

“You’ve got to meet success halfway. I wanted it to come all the way, so we never shook hands.” (203)

One summer, a million years ago (2007), I decided to read everything William Carlos Williams wrote and everything written about him. The other week, I was browsing my local library and noticed how many books related to Emily Carr they have. So I’ve decided to read them all. I started with the definitive biography, which won Maria Tippett the Governor General’s award in 1979, just as Emily won it in 1941. It’s a surprisingly quick read and the perfect overview before digging deeper. As I look back through my notebook now, I didn’t write down as many quotes as I thought I might have. But I’m thinking a lot about Emily. I found myself nodding along. I found myself in this book more than I expected.

Books Emily read (or wanted to read):

  • Painters of the Modern Mind by Mary Cecil Allen
  • Animals in Art by A.M. Berry
  • Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • St. Mawr by D.H. Lawrence
  • Katherine Mansfield
  • In Tune with the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine
  • The New Art by Horace Shipp
  • Art by Clive Bell
  • Tertium Organum by P.D. Ouspensky
  • Marius Barbeau
  • Eric Brown
  • Canadian Art Movement by F.B. Housser
  • Whitman to America by F.B. Housser
  • Understudies by Mary E. Wilkes
  • E. Pauline Johnson
  • Theory of Pure Design by Denman Ross
  • No Time Like the Present by Storm Jameson
  • A Vindication of the Life of Lady Byron (by Harriet Beecher Stowe?)