One of three sons, Findley was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Allan Gilmour Findley, a stockbroker, and his wife, the former Margaret Maude Bull. His paternal grandfather was president of Massey-Harris, the farm-machinery company. He was raised in the upper class Rosedale district of the city, attending boarding school at St. Andrew's College (although leaving during grade 10 for health reasons).
He pursued a career in the arts, studying dance and acting, and had significant success as an actor before turning to writing. He was part of the original Stratford Festival company in the 1950s, acting alongside Alec Guinness, and appeared in the first production of Thornton Wilder's The Matchmaker at the Edinburgh Festival. He also played Peter Pupkin in Sunshine Sketches, the CBC Television adaptation of Stephen Leacock's Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, and had an uncredited (and unconfirmed) minor role in the 1964 television film John Cabot: A Man of the Renaissance. (Picture: William Whitehead)
Though Findley had declared his homosexuality as a teenager, he married actress/photographer Janet Reid (born 1930) in 1959, but the union lasted only three months and was dissolved by divorce or annulment two years later. Eventually he became the domestic partner of writer William Whitehead, whom he met in 1962, either while working as an arts reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or while appearing in a theatre production (sources differ). Findley and Whitehead also collaborated on several documentary projects in the 1970s.
Though Timothy Findley had declared his homosexuality as a teenager, he married actress/photographer Janet Reid (born 1930) in 1959, but the union lasted only three months and was dissolved by divorce or annulment two years later. Eventually he became the domestic partner of writer William Whitehead, whom he met in 1962, either while working as an arts reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation or while appearing in a theatre production (sources differ).
Through Wilder, Findley became a close friend of actress Ruth Gordon, whose work as a screenwriter and playwright inspired Findley to consider writing as well. After Findley published his first short story in the Tamarack Review, Gordon encouraged him to pursue writing more actively, and he eventually left acting in the 1960s.
Findley's first two novels, The Last of the Crazy People (1967) and The Butterfly Plague (1969), were originally published in Britain and the United States after having been rejected by Canadian publishers. Findley's third novel, The Wars, was published to great acclaim in 1977 and went on to win the Governor General's Award for fiction. It was adapted for film in 1981.
Timothy Findley received a Governor General's Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award, an ACTRA Award, the Order of Ontario, the Ontario Trillium Award, and in 1985 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. He was a founding member and chair of the Writers' Union of Canada, and a president of the Canadian chapter of PEN International.
His writing, typical of the Southern Ontario Gothic genre, was heavily influenced by Jungian psychology, and mental illness, gender and sexuality were frequent recurring themes in his work. His characters often carried dark personal secrets, and were often conflicted — sometimes to the point of psychosis — by these burdens.
He publicly mentioned his homosexuality, passingly and perhaps for the first time, on a broadcast of the programme The Shulman File in the 1970s, taking flabbergasted host Morton Shulman completely by surprise. Shulman was a man who did not rattle easily.
Findley and Whitehead resided at Stone Orchard, a farm near Cannington, Ontario, and in the south of France. In 1996, Findley was honoured by the French government, who declared him a Chevalier de l'Ordre des arts et des lettres.
Findley was also the author of several dramas for television and stage. Elizabeth Rex, his most successful play, premiered at the Stratford Festival of Canada to rave reviews and won a Governor General's award. Shadows, first performed in 2001, was his last completed work. Findley was also an active mentor to a number of young Canadian writers, including Marnie Woodrow and Elizabeth Ruth.
In the final years of Findley's life, declining health led him to move his Canadian residence to Stratford, Ontario, and Stone Orchard was purchased by Canadian dancer Rex Harrington.
In 2002 he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
Findley died on June 21, 2002, in Brignoles, France, not far from his house in Cotignac.
William Frederick (Bill) Whitehead (born 1931) is a Canadian writer, actor and filmmaker. He was the partner of the late Canadian writer Timothy Findley, with whom he co-wrote several works including the television documentaries Dieppe 1942 and The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway.
He studied biology and theatre arts at the University of Saskatchewan receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 and a Master of Arts degree in 1955. He moved to Ontario in 1957 to become an actor and producer. He is an award-winning writer of radio and television documentaries, including many episodes of the CBC Television series The Nature of Things and the CBC Radio series Ideas.
Whitehead currently lives in Stratford, Ontario. In March 2004, approximately two years after Findley's death, Whitehead donated a collection of Findley's theatre memorabilia to the University of Guelph.
In September 2012, his memoir, Words to Live By was published by Cormorant Books.
Words to Live by by William Whitehead
Hardcover: 248 pages
Publisher: Cormorant Books (September 1, 2012)
Amazon: Words to Live by
The life of one of the most influential builders of 20th century Canadian culture, in his own words.
Words to Live By is the memoir of William Whitehead who, from the 1950s onwards, has been a participant in, and spectator to, the development of Canadian culture. But Whitehead's book does far more than document the events and people of this dynamic period -- it tells the story of a prairie boy who trained as a scientist but fell in love with the stage, the story of a man whose adventures and misadventures in the written and spoken word have given new meaning to the phrase "words to live by," as it tells the story of a man deeply engaged with and involved in our country’s theatre, radio, television, and literature. Reading Words to Live By is like having the best seat at an amazing dinner party, one where your companion delights and entertains you into the small hours of the night.
Journeyman: Travels of a Writer by Timothy Findley, edited by William Whitehead
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: HarperFlamingo Canada (2003)
Amazon: Journeyman: Travels of a Writer
From Stone Orchard: A collection of memories by Timothy Findley
Paperback: 170 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Non-Fiction (1999)
Amazon: From Stone Orchard: A collection of memories
Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas by Thomas Waugh
Paperback: 599 pages
Publisher: Mcgill Queens Univ Pr (July 30, 2006)
Amazon: Romance of Transgression in Canada: Queering Sexualities, Nations, Cinemas
From pornography to autobiography, from the Cold War to the sexual revolution, from rural roots and mythologies to the queer meccas of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, "The Romance of Transgression in Canada" is a history of sexual representation on the large and small screen in English Canada and Quebec. Thomas Waugh identifies the queerness that has emerged at the centre of our national sex-obsessed cinema, filling a gap in the scholarly literature. In Part One, he explores the explosive canon of artists such as Norman McLaren, Claude Jutra, Colin Campbell, Paul Wong, John Greyson, Patricia Rozema, Lea Pool, Bruce Labruce, Esther Valiquette, Marc Paradis, and Mirha-Soleil Ross. Part Two is an encyclopaedia of short essays covering 340 filmmakers, video artists, and institutions. "The Romance of Transgression in Canada" is a celebration of moving images that have scandalized conservative politicians, but are the envy of queer cultural festivals around the world.
More Real Life Romances at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance
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