Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The First Canadian Novelist

Mr. J. M. Le Moine, the Canadian litterateur, says that "The History of Emily Montague," published in London by Dodsley, in 1769, was the earliest novel written in Canada, and Sillery, Quebec, where it was written, can therefore claim to be the cradle of Canadian literature. Frances Brooke (nee Frances Moore), authoress, was the wife of the Rev. John Brooke, military chaplain at Quebec. The heroine - the accomplished Emily Montague - discourses so eloquently on the charms of Canadian scenery and social amusements at Quebec, that several English families, it is said, sought in consequence a home on the shores of the St. Lawrence.

Of this first Canadian novelist our contemporary recalls an anecdote. The evening before she left England with her husband for Canada, she gave a farewell party. Miss Hannah More, Miss Seward, Mr. Keate, Dr. Johnson and Mr. Boswell were among the visitors. As Dr. Johnson was obliged to take his leave early, he rose, and, wishing her health and happiness, went seemingly away. In a few minutes a servant came to acquaint Mrs. Brooke that a gentleman in the parlor wished to speak with her. She accordingly went down stairs, and who should it be but Dr. Johnson! "Madame," said the Doctor, "I sent for you down stairs that I might kiss you, which I did not choose do do before so much company." - Canadian Gazette

Date: January 26, 1896
Location: Massachusetts
Paper: Worcester Daily Spy

For more stories about Sillery and the ancestors who lived there, visit Sillery, Quebec, Canada