Maynard, Fredelle Bruser

views updated


MAYNARD, FREDELLE BRUSER (1922–1989), writer. Born in Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, to Boris and Rona Bruser (née Slobinsky). She studied English literature (Honors B.A., University of Manitoba (1943); M.A., University of Toronto (1944); Ph.D., Radcliffe College, Harvard University (1947)).

Maynard belongs to a generation of Jewish Canadian women writers that included Miriam Waddington and Adele Wiseman. She is perhaps best known for Raisins and Almonds (1972) and The Tree of Life (1988), two autobiographical works in which she asks "Who am I?" and emphatically concludes: "Woman and Jew, I am also my parents' child." The interest of these volumes thus lies in their combination of a vivid portrayal of family dynamics with a pointed representation of the social conditions that affect the life of a Jew and a woman at a particular historical juncture. Maynard's recollections of her gentle artist-turned-shopkeeper father in Raisins and Almonds are presented against the backdrop of her experience of growing up "Jewish and alien" in the small towns of western Canada during the 1920s and 1930s. The Tree of Life explores Maynard's complex relationships with her mother, sister, her gentile husband, the artist Max Maynard (they divorced shortly after the publication of Raisins and Almonds), and two daughters Rona and Joyce, while also demonstrating the repercussions of a pervasive gender discrimination that made academic employment unattainable even for somebody with her stellar record. Discouraged but not defeated, Maynard began a successful journalism career that would span four decades, writing about education, child care and development, health and medicine, and family relationships in Canadian and American publications such as Good Housekeeping, Ladies' Home Journal, Family Circle, Woman's Day, Chatelaine, Parents, and Reader's Digest. During the 1970s and 1980s Maynard was the initiator and host of two popular Ontario parenting shows one of which was Parents and Children. Maynard also published two books on parenting and child care: Guiding Your Child to a More Creative Life (1973), and the controversial The Child Care Crisis (1985), in which she advocated stay-at-home parenting over day-care during a child's formative years. Further light on Maynard's life is shed by autobiographical writings by her daughters, including Rona Maynard's personal journalism in various magazines (she was editor of Chatelaine for ten years until 2005), and Joyce Maynard's memoir At Home in the World (1998). Maynard's papers are at the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections.

[Bina Toledo Freiwald (2nd ed.)]