Margaret Laurence

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Margaret Laurence: A Bird in the House-Research Paper

On July 18, 1926, Margaret Laurence was born to Scottish father, Robert Wemyss, and Irish mother Verna Simpson Wemyss. They lived in Mrs. Wemyss' hometown of Neewapa, Manitoba, until Margaret's move to Winnipeg in 1944. Margaret was but 4 years old when her mother died of a kidney infection. It was at this point that her aunt came to care for her and later marry her father. They were shortly thereafter moved into Margaret's grandfathers home. Margaret found living with her grandfather to be a very difficult task, and much of her writing in "A Bird in the House" reflects her relationship with her grandfather using the character Vanessa and her rough, uncaring grandfather. Like Margaret, the character Vanessa is an aspiring writer who is faced with many obstacles in her life. The grandfather-granddaughter relationship is one of the most prominent aspects reflected from Margaret's own life. Vanessa grandfather was oftentimes hard on her and the family, and showed lack of compassion and caring, in general. His rules were strict and always enforced, thought sometimes challenged by Vanessa. Margaret thought this of her grandfather until later in life, again, like Vanessa.

Margaret's first attempts at writing mainly took place upon her arrival to Winnipeg United College, in 1944. She had obtained a scholarship, so she left her hometown of Neewapa to graduate in 1947 and begin her career. Her first job was at "the Winnipeg Citizen", a local newspaper where she worked various jobs. This was also reflected in Laurence's book "A Bird in the House". Vanessa had begun writing as a child, but when she came of age, she too, left her small hometown and headed to college in Winnipeg to study.

It was in 1947 as well that Margaret met her husband Jack Laurence. Due to his line of work they traveled and lived in many places in the world including Africa, Somalia, England, and Vancouver, Canada.
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