Alistair MacLeod - Biography

Alistair MacLeod is probably the Atlantic region’s best-known and most respected writer, and aside from Alice Munro, probably the best writer of short fiction in Canada. MacLeod was born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 1936, but his family moved back to Cape Breton, where it has deep roots, when he was ten. After high school, MacLeod worked a variety of jobs, including as a logger, a miner, and a fisherman, to pay for his education. He took a B.A. and a B. Ed. at St. Francis Xavier University, and then went on to receive his M.A. from the University of New Brunswick and his doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He taught at the University of Indiana for three years before taking up a position at the University of Windsor in 1969, where he taught English and creative writing until his retirement. MacLeod is widely respected for the craftsmanship of his stories, over which he takes a great deal of time and care. This is reflected in his relatively small output: two collections of stories, The Lost Salt Gift of Blood (1976) and As Birds Bring Forth the Sun (1986); his stories have also been gathered in The Island (2000). MacLeod also published a novel, No Great Mischief, in 1999, which won the Dublin IMPAC award and catapulted MacLeod to international fame. In 2004, he published To Every Thing There Is a Season: A Cape Breton Christmas Story, illustrated by Peter Rankin. In 2008, MacLeod was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. He died in the spring of 2014.