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Blackburn, Grace

Main entryBlackburn, Grace
Birth placeQuebec City, Quebec
Birth date17 April 1865
Death placeLondon, Ontario
Death date4 March 1928
Birth nameVictoria Grace Blackburn
Alternate namesFanfan
Marital statussingle
Religious affiliationAnglican; Episcopalian
Paid workteacher (school); journalist, literary and drama critic; assistant managing editor
BiographyThe LONDON FREE PRESS was the Blackburn family enterprise, to which most of Joseph Blackburn's children contributed. The family's fifth daughter and sixth child, Victoria Grace Blackburn (1865-1928) or "Grace," attended girls' schools in London, Ontario and then Hellmuth Ladies' College. For several years she taught in Minnesota, then spent a year as the principal of the Diocesan School in Indianapolis, sending occasional pieces to the LONDON FREE PRESS from 1894 onwards. In 1900 she came home to join the staff, and wrote literary and dramatic criticism under the pen-name "Fan-Fan." While journalism occupied most of her time, she also studied theatre and dramatic criticism in New York, and literature in England from 1906-1909. On her return to Canada she helped found the London branch of the Canadian Women's Press Club in 1910, for which she later served as president (1918-1919). She became an editorial writer for the FREE PRESS, and from 1918-1928, acted as assistant managing editor. The First World War formed the theme of many of Grace's poems, such as "Christ in Flanders" (c1916), and her novel, THE MAN-CHILD which was published posthumously in 1930. In addition to her poetry and journalism, she wrote at least two plays: the drama, "Seal of Confession," and a satire, "The Little Gray." On the lecture circuit, her feminist "Chant of the Woman" was popular. Grace Blackburn died of cancer in 1928 and was buried at Woodland Cemetery.
Other notesDCB and death registry list birthplace as Quebec; several other government documents list birthplace as Ontario. The Blackburn family also owned THE LONDON ADVERTISER, beginning in 1926. A commemorative historical plaque stands outside the home Grace shared with her sisters, at 652 Talbot Street in London, Ontario.
ResidencesLondon, Ontario (1871, 1881, 1891); Faribault, Minnesota (c1897-c1899); Indianapolis, Indiana (c1899); London, Ontario (1900-); New York (c1903-c1906); England (1906-1909); London, Ontario (c1911-1928)
Geographic regionsSouthern Ontario
Primary genresfiction; journalism; poetry
Other publicationsAnthologized in: Garvin, CANADIAN POEMS OF THE GREAT WAR (1918); Garvin, CANADIAN POETS (1916, 1926)
OrganizationsCanadian Women's Press Club; Women's Canadian Club (founder, and president 1918-19); London Women's Press Club (president 1921-23)
Father's nameJosiah Blackburn
Life dates of father6 March 1823, London, England - 11 November 1890, Garland, Arkansas; m. 1851, 1886 to Marion Aglia
Father's noteproprietor and editor, LONDON FREE PRESS
Mother's nameEmme (Delamere or Delemere), or Emma Jane (Delamore)
Life dates of motherc1832, Toronto, Ontario - 14 February 1885, London, Ontario; m. 1851
Biographical referencesGarvin, "Grace Blackburn," in his CANADIAN POETS (1916), 383-388; Reaney, "Blackburn, Victoria Grace" on DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN BIOGRAPHY XV, University of Toronto/Universite Laval (Web, 2000); 1871 Census of Canada; 1881 Census of Canada; 1891 Census of Canada; 1901 Census of Canada; 1911 Census of Canada; Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1936 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947
Bibliographic referencesWatters, CHECKLIST OF CANADIAN LITERATURE...1620-1960 (1970), p. 249; Elwood H. Jones, ed. ""Fanfan's Poetry (The Collected Poetical Works of Victoria Grace Blackburn),"" typescript, University of Western Ontario Library, 1967.
Research referencescomplete
Archival referencescorrespondence, Deacon papers, Fisher Library, University of Toronto; correspondence, Willison Papers, MG 30 D 29 vol. 3, National Archives of Canada; letter to Madge Macbeth, Macbeth papers, MG 30 D 52 vol. 2, National Archives of Canada; "Seal of Confession" and "The Little Gray," University of Western Ontario Archives
Image creditsImage from John. W. Garvin, ed., CANADIAN POETS (2nd ed., Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1926).
CopyrightThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) at Please cite Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.