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CANADIAN PERSPECTIVES FRIENDSHIP IN ISOLATION; OR, WHY WILLIAM KIRBY DEDICATED THE GOLDEN DOG TO MARIA RYE MARION DIAMOND University of Queensland To Miss Rye, in admiration of her intelligent and womanly perseverance in the good work to which she devotes her life — the rescue from poverty and vice of destitute children — this book is respectfully inscribed by The Author Niagara, Ontario, January, 18771 Authors inevitably work in isolation, but some are more isolated than others. The nineteenth century colonial experience, in Canada, or Australia, or New Zealand, was a particularly isolating one for many authors. Loyalist colonial writers, who saw themselves both politically and culturally as a part of the British Empire, sought recognition in the imperial heardand, through acceptance by the London publishing houses and, consequendy, by die wider British reading public. London was die most appropriate place to publish, as well as most financially rewarding, but this left colonial writers dependent on die vagaries of die postal service, and die assistance of friends or relations in London who could press their case to publishers who were, often, disparaging of work from the colonies. A supportive friend with faith in both author and manuscript was invaluable. Of course friendship also plays a wider role in the life of an author; at its best, it can provide support and solace and a sounding board. This paper looks at die case of die Canadian novelist, William Kirby, and his unexpected, anomalous, and radier touching friendship widi a sprighdy English spinster, Maria Rye, a friendship which illustrates Victorian Review 21.1 (Summer 1995) Victorian Review between the solitary life of the author and die active role of the author's advocate and friend. Both Kirby and Rye, in their own way, were remarkable people. They were not young when they met, and their friendship seems to have been an entirely platonic affair. Yet in a curious way, it mirrored the nineteenth century ideal of the companionate marriage, in which the public and die private spheres met in friendship and mutual support. But with one twist: in this relationship, it was the woman, Maria Rye, who represented die public sphere, acting as advocate and sponsor, and holding up a mirror on the wider world; while Kirby represented die private world of thought and reflection, providing her with a respite from the cares of the wider world. The Chien d'Or2> by William Kirby, is one of the great historical novels of Canadian literature. Written over many years, it was first published in 1877. It immediately caught die attention of die public, reappearing in numerous editions in die following years. However few of these editions were authorized, die result of an oversight which saw the author lose control of the copyright to his book. Perhaps because of this confused and unhappy publishing history, it is unusual for later editions to contain the dedication to Maria Rye included by Kirby in the original 1877 edition. Kirby's tribute celebrates an unusual friendship of many years, extending from 1868, when Maria Rye first visited Niagara-on-the-Lake, and only ended by her death in 1903. Maria Rye is known today as die woman who first brought 'home children' to Canada (Parr, 'Maria S. Rye'). Before this, however, she had already established a reputation in Britain and die empire for her promotion of female emigration to the colonies. In 1861 she established die Female Middle Gass Emigration Society to support the emigration of middle-class women as governesses. In 1862 she left England widi a party of about a hundred women, bound for Otago, New Zealand, and during the next four years she toured New Zealand and die Australian colonies, promoting the cause of single female emigration (Hammerton 126-133, Macdonald 28-36). On her return to Britain in 1866, she set herself up as an emigration agent in London. She sent further parties of emigrants to New Zealand and Australia, and during 1868 and 1869, widi die support of the federal and Ontario governments, she made three trips to Canada with single emigrant women whom she had recruited as domestic servants. Initially Rye's emigrant women were greeted widi enthusiasm in Ontario, for the shortage...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 1-16
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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