Klee Wyck

This is the Indian name given to Emily by the First Nations People in Ucluelet; it means 'laughing one.' --Klee Wyck p. 8


"I did not know book rules. I made two for myself. They were about the same as the principles I use in painting--get to the point as directly as you can; never use a big word if a little one will do.

...So I wrote the stories that were later to be known as Klee Wyck, reliving those beautiful, calm places among the dear Indians. Their quiet strength healed my heart. Of course it could not heal old age, but it healed me enough that I could go home..."

I did not write Klee Wyck, as the reviewers said, long ago when I went to the West Coast Villages painting. I was too busy then painting from dawn till dusk. I wrote Klee Wyck...in hospital. They said I would not be able to go about painting here and there any more, lugging and tramping. I was sore about it, so, as I lay there, I relived the villages of Klee Wyck. It was easy for my mind to go back to the lovely places. After fifty years they were as fresh in my mind as they were then, because while I painted I had lived them deep. I could sail out of hospital and forget about everything."

--Growing Pains, pp. 265, 266, 274

When asked to write about the "struggle story" of her work out West in collaboration with a biographer, Emily replied:

"Nobody could write my hodge-podge life but me. Biographers can only write up big, important people who have done great deeds to which the public can attach dates. I could not be bothered with collaborators, nor would they be bothered with the little drab nothings that have made up my life."

--Growing Pains, p. 266.

She would comply and the result is Growing Pains.

Her first book, Klee Wyck won a Governor General's award for general literature, the year that it was published in 1941.

Emily Carr at Home and at Work
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Gallery Tour Family Writing Issues Team

Last updated: 23 July 1997
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