Born in Canada in 1931, writer Alice Munro, primarily known for her short stories, attended the University of Western Ontario. Her first collection of stories was published as Dance of the Happy Shades. In 2009, Munro won the Man Booker International Prize. That same year, she published the short-story collection Too Much Happiness. In 2013, at age 82, Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.
Early Life and Career
Alice Munro was born Alice Ann Laidlaw on July 10, 1931, in Wingham, Ontario, Canada. She attended the University of Western Ontario, where she studied journalism and English, but left the school after only two years when she married first husband James Munro (m. 1951–1972); the couple moved to Victoria, Vancouver, British Columbia, where they opened a bookstore. Also during this time, Munro began publishing her work in various magazines.
Munro's first collection of stories (and first book-length work) was published in 1968 as Dance of the Happy Shades; the collection achieved great success in Munro's native country, including her first Governor General's Award for fiction. Three years later, she published Lives of Girls and Women, a collection of stories that critics deemed a Bildungsroman—a work centering on the main character's moral and psychological development.
Short Stories: 'Away From Her' and 'Runaway'
Primarily known for her short stories about life in Ontario, Munro has published several collections over the past several decades, including Who Do You Think You Are? (1978); The Moons of Jupiter (1982); Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001), which was later adapted into a film, Away from Her, directed by Sarah Polley and released in 2006; Runaway (2004); and The View from Castle Rock (2006).
Munro received her second Governor award exactly three decades after her first, in 1998, for The Progress of Love. In 2005, TIME magazine named Munro a TIME 100 Honoree. "Alice Munro is 73 now, and she deserves the Nobel Prize," TIME wrote. "Her fiction admits readers to a more intimate knowledge and respect for what they already possess."
In 2009, Munro won the Man Booker International Prize, honoring her lifetime body of work. That same year, she published the short-story collection Too Much Happiness.
Munro would go on to publish 13 short-story collections by her 80th birthday. Most recently, in 2012, she published Dear Life—her final story collection, according to the writer, who announced that she was retiring from writing in June 2013.
2013 Nobel Prize in Literature
In October 2013, at the age of 82, Munro was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, with the Swedish Academy lauding her as the "master of the contemporary short story." Munro is the first Canadian woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first woman to win the literature prize since Herta Mueller in 2009, and only the 13th female recipient of the literature prize since it was founded in 1901. Additionally, she's the first Canadian writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature since Saul Bellow, who won the honor in 1976.
"It's nice to go out with a bang," Munro stated after receiving a Canadian book award for Dear Life. When she was contacted by The Canadian Press about her Nobel Prize win, Munro remarked, "I knew I was in the running, yes, but I never thought I would win." The author later stated, "I would really hope that this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something that you played around with until you'd got a novel written."
Munro currently resides in Clinton, near her childhood home in southwestern Ontario. She married her second husband, geographer Gerald Fremlin; Munro in 1976. Fremlin died in April 2013.
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