My Life as a Dame
Written by Christina McCall
Edited by Stephen Clarkson
Publication Date March 01, 2009
In February 1956, a remarkable young woman named Christina McCall began her working life as an editorial secretary at Maclean's magazine. It was a legendary time there, when the likes of Pierre Berton, Robert Fulford, June Callwood, Peter Gzowski, and Peter C. Newman graced the magazine's pages. McCall would come to join that illustrious group, and be considered not only one of the best political writers of her generation, but a pioneer for women in journalism and one of Canada's most brilliant minds.
For the first time, the best of McCall's articles and essays have been collected in one definitive volume alongside excerpts from her unfinished memoirs. Covering topics from the Alberta oil boom to the rise of divorce rates in Canada to in-depth profiles of the Ottawa establishment, McCall's clear-eyed observations are not only laced with insight, humour, and compassion, they continue to be relevant today.
Christina McCall (1935-2005) was a writer of literary non-fiction who worked a socio-political analyst for Maclean's, Saturday Night, Chatelaine, and the Globe and Mail. Grits, her portrait of the Liberal Party, was acclaimed as "one of the most important Canadian books." With her husband, Stephen Clarkson, she co-authored Trudeau and Our Times, the classic two-volume study of Pierre Elliott Trudeau and his impact on Canadian society and politics, the first volume of which won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1990.
Stephen Clarkson is a professor of political economy at the University of Toronto. A frequent commentator on Canadian affairs in both French and English media, he is the author of several books on national and international politics, including the prize-winning Canada and the Reagan Challenge and Does North America Exist? He lives in Toronto.
"...a collection of columns by Christina McCall...My Life As A Dame (Anansi), edited by Stephen Clarkson...speak[s] to the place of women in society, skewering their weaknesses (turning on each other) and celebrating their strengths, one of which was to persevere in a world of sexist stereotypes." Winnipeg Free Press
"A nourishing book and a tasty one...Fascinating, provocative and great fun to read...[My Life as a Dame is] absolutely entrancing..." Literary Review of Canada
"The volume stands as a resounding testament to a woman who broke new ground in Canadian journalism, forging an artistic narrative style of non-fiction writing that was lively, distinctly Canadian and erudite." Vancouver Sun
"The writing here, some of which is nearly 40 years old, is as good as anything being produced in this country now, and better than most...examples of fine reportage that also serve as useful reminders of a bygone era." Quill & Quire
"...a wide range of beautifully written articles...A testament to McCall's talent is the number of articles that have stood the test of time." Montreal Gazette
"McCall excels as an observer of people's habits, attitudes, formative experiences and stratagems...My Life As a Dame is an excellent resource...[and McCall] surely deserves her reputation as one of the best...[There's something uniquely revealing in frank, impassioned prose like McCall's. For other generations of Canadians, it is worthwhile to inherit an understanding of the lives and ideas that are captured in this book." Chronicle Herald