26 January 2016

Remembering Ted Allan on His Hundredth

Today marks the centenary of Ted Allan’s birth. Though our lives overlapped by more than three decades, the only time I actually laid eyes on the man was at the 1993 Richer Roast. The venue was the Oval Ballroom of the Ritz-Carleton, the very same space that would one day serve to host the Panofsky wedding reception in Barney's Version. 

Would that I could remember Allan's speech. The only bit – and it was a bit – that has remained with me is the end: "Mordecai,” said Allan, turning to the roastee, “do me a favour. Next time someone compliments you on Lies My Father Told Me, would you please correct them."


Two decades after the man's death, it's still for Lies My Father Told Me – as short story, film and play – that Allan is best remembered. So many other works have fallen by the wayside, but there is reason to hope. Where seven years ago not one of his books was in print, we now have two: The Scalpel, The Sword (Dundurn, 2009), the Bethune biography he co-authored with Sidney Gordon, and This Time a Better Earth (U of Ottawa Press, 2015), Allan's 1939 debut novel. The latter is particularly welcome… so rare was it that the author himself didn't own a copy.

In celebration of the day, recognition of the five Ted Allan books that remain out of print. All are worthy of revival, but none more so than Willie, the Squowse. Honestly, how is it possible that it isn't in print?

Love is a Long Shot
Alice K. Doherty [pseud Ted Allan]
Toronto: News Stand Library, 1949
Quest for Pajaro
Edward Maxwell [pseud Ted Allan]
London: Heinemann, 1957
Willie the Squowse
Ted Allan
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1978
Love is a Long Shot
Ted Allan
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1984
Don't You Know Anybody Else?
Ted Allan
Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1985

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