27 February 2013

Freedom to Read Week: Embracing Elinor Glyn

Philip Alexius de Laszlo. Elinor Glyn (1912)
                                       Would you like to sin
                                       With Elinor Glyn
                                       On a tiger skin?
                                       Or would you prefer
                                       To err with her
                                       On some other fur? 
                                                        – Anonymous
The scandal of Three Weeks now a century past, is it not high time we take Elinor Glyn to our collective bosom as a daughter of Canada? I'm not suggesting that we confer some silly posthumous citizenship, rather that we recognize her parentage and upbringing.

In her day, our press all but ignored Mrs Glyn's Canadian roots; The Globe & Mail referred to her always as an "English novelist". This Editorial Note from the 25 November 1927 edition of the Financial Post is unusual:

Now, wasn't that uncalled for?

This film was playing in theatres across the country on the day that dig was published:

How very Canadian – flinging faeces at those who have done well – but I think there's more to this. A woman who moved to support her family when her alcoholic husband could not, Elinor Glyn was by turns a novelist, a journalist, a war correspondent, a screenwriter, a director and a producer. The staid, conservative Financial Post wouldn't have liked that, but her greater sin was that she wrote about sex and populated her stories with strong, confident women – women like herself.

I think she could take the criticism.

The Vancouver Sun, 28 October 1941

Above is the edition of Three Weeks that was seized by Toronto police back in 1911. Don't you prefer this?

Related post:


  1. Would rather befoul
    Mr. Howell
    On a bathroom towel.


    This comment may be a little low-brow for this blog...but, after all, National Poetry Month is just around the corner.

  2. I first read about Glyn in a Robert Barnard novel. Love the tiger skin edition of Three Weeks.

    The lady on the cover looks ready for her lover.

    1. A shame to think that the image comes from a lost film.

  3. I still find her books all over the place. -- the Danielle Steele of her day, I guess. Someday I should buy a Glyn novel and read it. I had no idea she was in the movie biz. There's some lowbrow slang for you. Just doing my part.

    1. I've been telling myself that I'll buy Three Weeks when I come across a copy... and yet this has never happened. How is this possible? I'm beginning to think Toronto's morality department is still at work, and that their tentacles have somehow spread to points west.