Shields, Carol (Ann) 1935-2003

views updated

SHIELDS, Carol (Ann) 1935-2003


See index for CA sketch: Born June 2, 1935, in Oak Park, IL; died of complications from breast cancer July 16, 2003, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Author. Shields was an author of novels, short stories, and poetry who celebrated the life of ordinary people in such books as the 1993 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Stone Diaries. After graduating from Hanover College with a B.A. in 1957, she married and spent most of the next two decades raising a family. Though much of her early life was occupied with taking care of her five children, she still managed to squeeze in time to write stories and poems, collecting the latter in Others (1972) and Intersect (1974). Returning to school when her children were older, she completed her master's degree at the University of Ottawa in 1975, and published Susanna Moodie: Voice and Vision (1976), which was based on her thesis. Her first novel, Small Ceremonies (1976), is about a woman writing a thesis on Susanna Moodie. Shields went on to write several more fairly conventional, at times self-consciously derivative, novels about ordinary people in modern times, including The Box Garden (1977) and A Fairly Conventional Woman (1982), as well as the short-story collections Various Miracles (1985) and The Orange Fish (1989). Various Miracles marked the beginning of a more experimental period in her writing in which she played more with narrative and point of view. Having lectured at the University of Ottawa from 1976 to 1977 and at the University of British Columbia for the two years after that, in 1980 Shields accepted a position as professor at the University of Manitoba. Her years as a teacher were also productive as a writer: she completed such novels as The Republic of Love (1992); The Stone Diaries (1993), which also received the Governor General's Award for English-language Fiction, a National Book Critics Circle Award, and a Booker Prize shortlist; and Larry's Party (1997), as well as the poetry collection Coming to Canada (1992), the play Anniversary (1998), written with David Williamson, and the short-story collection Dressing up for the Carnival (2000). Shields served as chancellor at Manitoba from 1996 until 2000, retiring two years after learning she had breast cancer. Despite her illness, she continued to write, completing the biography Jane Austen (2001), which won a Charles Taylor Prize, and the novel Unless (2002), the second of her books to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Shields was working on another novel when she passed away.



Contemporary Novelists, seventh edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.


Chicago Tribune, July 18, 2003, section 3, p. 12.

Los Angeles Times, July 18, 2003, p. B12.

New York Times, July 18, 2003, p. A19.

Times (London, England), July 18, 2003.

Washington Post, July 18, 2003, p. B7.