Centenary of renowned Canadian writer George Woodcock

Via Writers’ Trust of Canada

Born exactly 100 years ago today, George Woodcock would achieve international renown as a writer of political biography, history, travel, criticism, and poetry and a champion of Canadian literature. He also, with his wife Ingeborg, founded and funded a one-of-a-kind program (The Woodcock Fund) that provides aid to professional Canadian writers confronting the kind of unforeseen financial emergencies that threaten the completion of a book-in-progress. To date the program has delivered $893,273 to 181 writers. The Writers’ Trust of Canada administers the program.

“I’ve known writers who have run into difficult financial times,” said Timothy Taylor, novelist, journalist, and member of the Writers’ Trust board of directors. “In such cases, if a writer has nowhere else to turn, this program can be a godsend. If they qualify, a writer receives both a financial bridge and a psychological boost to keep them going.”

The Woodcock Fund is targeted to, in the words of its founder, “the working writer, who is no longer at the beginning [of their career], who has proved their worth, but who runs into a hard period when they need a few thousand to tide them over and allow them to continue the project they are working on.”

“This romantic notion people have of the writing life is fiction,” said Don Oravec, executive director, the Writers’ Trust of Canada. “Writers are self-employed, without benefits, a pension, and rarely eligible for EI. When hardship hits, such as a medical illness or the evaporation of a contract that provides supplementary income, writing is put aside. This program provides writers breathing space to come up with a new plan and finish their work.”

About the Woodcock Fund

Funding is available to Canadian writers and permanent residents working in the fields of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, playwriting, and children’s literature. The size and length of grants awarded varied in accordance with the individual circumstances of each case. Applications to the program are processed quickly and the identity of recipients remains anonymous. Decisions are made by a seven-member committee composed of writers from across the country. Typically the fund annually provides a total of $90,000 to approximately a dozen writers.

About George Woodcock

One of Canada’s foremost man of letters, George Woodcock was the author and editor of over 120 books. He was a social historian, cultural commentator, literary critic, poet, translator, biographer, travel writer, and social activist (he founded, with his wife, the Trans-Himalayan Aid Society and Canada India Village Aid). Born in Winnipeg, he grew up in Shropshire, England, and began his writing career in London. In 1949, he married the artist Ingeborg Linzer, and that same year returned to Canada eventually settling in Vancouver. A friend and colleague in England of such famous modern writers as George Orwell and Mulk Raj Anand, he became friends in Canada with literary figures such as Margaret Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and Al Purdy. Woodcock lectured in English at the University of British Columbia, founded the critical quarterly Canadian Literature, and helped establish the high international profile now enjoyed by Canadian writers.

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