A Patriotic Fan Letter in the Archives
The purpose of this project was to perform an in-depth analysis of selected materials in the Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections (York University, Toronto). This study focused on what we, as historians and patrons of the Archives, can learn about a particular author or individual from a set of documents. The document I chose was a fan letter written to Canadian author Margaret Laurence about her book The Stone Angel. I debate whether the letter, written by Dawn E. Clarke in 1972, endures in the Clara Thomas Archives because of, or in spite of, Margaret Laurence. I approached my analysis, first and foremost, by examining the items in the Margaret Laurence Fonds. I chose Dawn E. Clarke’s letter because it was the only document in the fonds to discuss The Stone Angel. I then analyzed the letter's content, physical characteristics such as Clarke's handwriting, and considered the reasons why this particular document was archived. I deduced the following: Dawn's handwriting, word choice, and neat presentation of her letter suggest she held Laurence in high esteem. Dawn's admiration and her national pride establishes Canada as a viable literary destination. Dawn acknowledges her role as a female reader and asserts her right to this readership and even authorship by composing her document. The existence and preservation of this document show the impact of an author on an individual.
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