A Very Short Introduction
Updated: Oct 23
It's already the Thanksgiving long weekend and that means the official release of the Hidden History blog!
When I was taking a Canadian Literature course in university, a professor asked the class what the future of Canadian publishing was. I raised my hand and said, "Evolving." She declared me optimistic in a rather sarcastic way, and ever since then I've been motivated to find out more about Canadian authors who didn't write depressing stories without any hope in the end. While I know people who find that unrealistic, I do believe that to face the dark days in our lives we need reminders that things will work out and that things will get better, even when we feel stuck and have no idea how they possibly can.
Nevertheless, many of the books I cover discuss tough subjects. Even the first novel that I cover discusses war and grief. Hopefully by also shinning a light on some of these forgotten romance authors, we can celebrate what the authors went through and have a better understanding about Canadian Romancelandia.
Readers will also get to learn how I did my research in a fun "How I Did My Research" post after my 30th author. There are a lot of resources that I think other romance fans and Canadians in general would appreciate knowing about, but I will be waiting to share that information as I don't want to overwhelm readers right away.
As I mentioned in one of my Instagram posts, I am indebted to the work of Dr. Carole Gerson and Dr. Pamela Regis. Their studies and previous research have helped and encouraged me tremendously. Another shout out would be the library staff at my own public library, those at the Thomas Fisher's Rare Books Library, and the academic libraries and archives at Queen's University and St. Lawrence College.
My personal goal is to post 1-2 blogs a month depending on the length. Since Julia Beckwith's novel is two volumes, it will definitely be the longest, especially in comparison to Harlequin novels. Harlequin authors themselves vary in their approach with romances. While Harlequin now has an international audience, it first started in Winnipeg and the founder actually passed away in Alberta this year. I will be doing a homage post to Harlequin for its impact on Canadian publishing later on, but there will also be time to focus on other publishers that supported romance authors.
In order for my readers and I to be on the same page, I am summarizing a definition of romance that I found in the Natural History of the Romance Novel by Dr. Pamela Regis:
"When the love interests overcome a barrier in order to be together."
These barriers can include everything from social expectations to magical spells. I am also requiring the romances to have a happy ending. Too often, love stories with happy for nows or ones where one of the love interests dies in the end leans more towards Women's Fiction. In those cases, the author has something other to say and doesn't just focus on the romance. The fact that some publishers try to market Women's Fiction as Romance since Romance sells well can come across as misleading to readers who expect certain outcomes. That is why I am primarily focusing on ones who have a happy ending.
Please remember that I will not be covering authors whose careers started after the 20th century. When writing about prolific figures and even lesser known authors, there is always the risk of offending someone who is still alive. By developing this blog instead of a book, I am able to avoid author estates and copyright issues that I would definitely have had to deal with if I did the book route. There are many communities that discuss contemporary authors including Bookstagram, and I highly encourage you to become involved with them if you are seeking more books to read.
Of course, you are indeed welcome to research authors beyond the ones I have chosen. You are also welcome to disagree with the ones I will be covering, but please remember to respectful if you choose to comment on the blog, or on Instagram. Not every book is the right book for everyone, so if one blog post doesn't resonate with you, I hope you will come back for others as there will be a variety of plots that I will be covering.
Disclaimer: If you decide to read any of the historical works, please read any of the notes that will be provided above the essays and read them with a historical lens. Social norms that have been embraced and considered acceptable today would not have been back when many of the authors were alive. When necessary, I will be including content notes so that future readers can be aware of potential scenes or characters they may not want to read about. I care about your mental health and reading is supposed to be fun, not stressful. Similarly, please note that referring to Indigenous characters as "Indian" was the common practice when many of the authors were alive, and one that Indigenous peoples have various views on even today. As a researcher, I use the term Indigenous or Native Peoples.
On that final note, I hope you have a cup of coffee or tea with you and are ready to read our very first author.