Poet and novelist Dorothy Livesay was born in Winnipeg in 1909. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Modern Languages from the University of Toronto in 1931 and attended the Sorbonne in Paris. Livesay later pursued graduate studies in social work at the University of Toronto in 1934, and received a Master of Education degree from the University of British Columbia in 1935. She worked as a teacher and social worker in Canada, the United States, and in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), and as an editor, journalist and university professor.
Livesay's publications include The Unquiet Bed (1968), Plainsongs (1971), Collected Poems: the Two Seasons (1972), Forty Women Poets of Canada (1972), Woman's Eye (1974), Ice Age (1975), Beginnings: A Winnipeg Childhood (memoirs, 1976), Right Hand, Left Hand (prose, 1977), The Phases of Love (1983), and The Husband: A Novella (fiction, 1990).
This series comprises photocopies of approximately 220 letters, 2 reviews, 9 poems, 3 articles, and copies of creative writing exams. Files are arranged chronologically. These letters document the literary friendship between writer and critic. Livesay and Pacey offer critical evaluation of each other's work, and their correspondence provides an historical overview of the developments taking place in Canadian literature following the Second World War and in their own careers. Among the Canadian writers discussed in their letters are A.J.M. Smith, Irving Layton, Roy Daniells, Earle Birney, Lorne Piece, Anne Wilkinson, Leonard Cohen, Mordecai Richler, P.K. Page, Phyllis Webb, James Reaney, Malcolm Ross, Jay MacPherson, and Norman Levine.
In 1964, Desmond Pacey applied to the Canada Council for funding to establish a writer-in-residence program at the University of New Brunswick. Norman Levine was the first UNB writer-in-residence from 1965-1966. Included in this series are letters written by Pacey to various Canadian writers including Earle Birney, Gabrielle Roy, Ernest Buckner, Miriam Waddington, and Yves Theriault, inviting them to replace Levine as writer-in-residence for the 1966-1967 academic year. Following this unsuccessful campaign, Dorothy Livesay applied and secured the position in 1966-1967.
Also included in this series is a copy of a speech Livesay delivered at the unveiling of Bliss Carman's portrait in the UNB Library on 15 May, 1968 (Case 12 File 3).
Livesay's mother, Florence Randall Livesay, was a journalist and poet, and a copy of a 1952 letter which she wrote to Dr. Pacey is located in Case 12 File 1.
The original letters for this series are located in the Pacey Papers in the Manuscript Division of the National Archives of Canada (MG 30, D339). A descriptive file list of two of the series in the Pacey Papers, poets and novelists, has been compiled by the National Archives (finding aid # 1729).
The Pacey Papers in the National Archives of Canada which contain the original correspondence remain closed until the year 2007. The same access restrictions apply to the Livesay correspondence series 2.3 of the Pacey Fonds housed in the University of New Brunswick Archives and Special Collections Department.
Case 12 Dorothy Livesay correspondence, 1946-1974 File 1 Dorothy Livesay correspondence, 1946-1956. -- 1946, 1952, 1954, 1956. File 2 Dorothy Livesay correspondence, 1957-1966. -- 1957-1960, 1964-1966. File 3 Dorothy Livesay correspondence, 1967-1974. -- 1967-1974.