Marjorie Lowry Christie Pickthall
Marjorie Lowry Christie Pickthall, writer, poet (b at Gunnersbury, England, 14 Sep 1883; d at Vancouver, 19 Apr 1922). Born in England, Marjorie Pickthall immigrated to Canada with her family in 1889. They settled in Toronto, where Pickthall attended St. Mildred's girls' school and the Bishop Strachan School for Girls. After graduation she worked as an assistant librarian at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO's Victoria College. Pickthall wrote a great deal during her youth and young adult life. She abruptly stopped in 1910, however, when her mother died: Pickthall had been very close with her mother, and her death had a profound effect on the writer. In December 1912 Pickthall returned to England to live with relatives. She found solace in England, and began to write once again, publishing 2 poetry collections: The Drift of Pinions (1913) and The Lamp of Poor Souls (1916). During WORLD WAR I Pickthall worked as an ambulance driver, as a farm labourer and at the library of the Meteorological Office in South Kensington. Following the war Pickthall returned to Canada. In 1920 she moved to Vancouver Island, rented a small cottage and continued writing. Having suffered from poor health for most of her life, Pickthall travelled to Vancouver in 1922 to undergo a surgical procedure. She developed an embolus as a result of the surgery and died shortly afterward. She is interred at St. James' Cemetery in Toronto.
Marjorie Pickthall was a prolific writer. During her short career she wrote over 200 short stories; 3 juvenile novels, Dick's Desertion, A Boy's Adventures in Canadian Forests (1905), The Straight Road (1906), and Billy's Hero (1908); and 2 adult novels, Little Hearts (1915) and The Bridge: A Story of the Great Lakes (1922). Three volumes of her poetry were published posthumously: The Woodcarver's Wife and Other Poems (1922), Little Songs (1925), and The Naiad and Five Other Poems (1931). Her father compiled and published Pickthall's Collected Poems in 1925 and again in 1936. Though writing during the Modernist era, Marjorie Pickthall's work is very much in the style of the Romantics. She creates an idealized world in which the natural environment is the ultimate representation of beauty. Her use of Romantic phrasing and rhythm also serve to place her work in the style of an era many poets had begun to reject. Pickthall, however, embraced the Romantic style, which remained popular despite its relative decline in poetic circles. She excelled in its execution, and is considered to be one of Canada's foremost poets of her kind in the 20th century.