Editing the Wilfred Watson Archive

Our lead project in this initiative is an edition of Wilfred Watson’s first play, Cockcrow and the Gulls, produced by the University of Alberta’s Studio Theatre in March 1962. Gordon Peacock directed the play; Norman Yates served as set designer. Watson began work on Cockcrow as early as 1949 and was awarded a Canadian Government Overseas Fellowship with which he funded a year-long trip to Paris in 1955-56 to work on Cockcrow within an environment steeped in avant-garde and absurdist theatrical production and theorization.

Editing Modernism in Canada

@ the University of Alberta
EMiC UA Project Leader: Paul Hjartarson

Although EMiC UA is involved in a number of projects, it centres on two major research initiatives: the Editing the Wilfred Watson Archive and Editing the Sheila Watson-Wilfred Watson Letters. Wilfred and Sheila Watson arguably rank among the top late modernist writers in Canada at midcentury and both earned international reputations: Sheila for her highly acclaimed novel, The Double Hook (1959); Wilfred, for his poetry and plays. (T.S. Eliot accepted Wilfred’s first book of poetry, Friday’s Child (1955), for publication by Faber and Faber.)

Through partnerships with the University of Alberta Libraries, the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto, the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory (CWRC), and the University of Alberta Press, EMiC UA is preparing print and digital editions of papers in the Wilfred Watson and Sheila Watson archives. (The Wilfred Watson Fond is held by the University of Alberta Libraries; The Sheila Watson Fond, by the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s College, University of Toronto.).

Editing the Sheila Watson-Wilfred Watson Letters

Our pilot project with the John M. Kelly Library at St. Michael’s is an edition of the letters Sheila and Wilfred wrote one another between 1956 and 1961; at that time, she was a graduate student in Toronto studying for her doctorate under the supervision of Marshall McLuhan while Wilfred, a recently appointed professor of English at the University of Alberta, was in Edmonton seeking to build on his reputation as an internationally recognized poet and to establish himself as a playwright.