Fonds F01877 - Merilyn Simonds fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Merilyn Simonds fonds

General material designation

Parallel title

Other title information

Title statements of responsibility

Title notes

Level of description


Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

Statement of projection (cartographic)

Statement of coordinates (cartographic)

Statement of scale (architectural)

Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area


  • 1884-2009 (Creation)
    Simonds, Merilyn

Physical description area

Physical description

9.24 m of textual records, 11 videocassettes, 7 audio cassettes

Publisher's series area

Title proper of publisher's series

Parallel titles of publisher's series

Other title information of publisher's series

Statement of responsibility relating to publisher's series

Numbering within publisher's series

Note on publisher's series

Archival description area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1949, Merilyn Simonds spent her childhood in Brazil and was educated at the University of Western Ontario. She has worked as a freelance writer, a magazine editor for Harrowsmith and This Country Canada and, since 1991, has devoted herself to full-time writing. She has published ten books and scores of magazine articles on subjects ranging from the environment to soap-making, from art to war, including the book accompaniment to the controversial CBC television documentary The Valour and the Horror. She has taught several literary non-fiction courses and has been a regular on CBC Radio's Basic Black.

With the release of The Convict Lover, published by Macfarlane, Walter & Ross in 1996, Simonds became nationally known as a literary writer. The Convict Lover was nominated for the Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction and was chosen as one of the top ten nonfiction books of 1996 by the Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire Magazine, Elm Street Magazine and Maclean’s. It was translated into Chinese, Japanese, and German, and in 1997, was adapted for the stage by the Kingston Summer Theatre Festival, premiering at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto in the fall of 1998. Also in 1996, from September to December, Simonds served as the Writer in Residence at Green College, University of British Columbia.

The Lion in the Room Next Door, Simonds’s collection of linked, autobiographical stories, was published in Canada by McClelland & Stewart in 1999 and became a national bestseller. The following year, it was published by Bloomsbury in England, by G.P. Putnam’s Sons in the United States and by btb in Germany.

The Holding is Simonds's first novel. Published by McClelland & Stewart in the spring of 2004, it was on the Canadian Booksellers' Association bestseller list for five months. In the fall of 2005 it was published in the United States, where it was selected a New York Times "Editor's Choice." The novel was released in Germany in 2007.

Simonds has edited two anthologies: Gardens: A Literary Companion (2008) and Night: A Literary Companion (2009). In 2010 a travel memoir, jointly authored with Wayne Grady, called Breakfast at the Exit Cafe: Travels through America was published. A selection of flash fictions from her work-in-progress The Paradise Project was recently featured in the Journal of the Americas special issue on contemporary Canadian writing.

Simonds lives with writer Wayne Grady on a small acreage north of Kingston. She has two sons by an earlier marriage — Karl, a musician, and Erik, a visual artist whose painting is on the cover of the original Canadian edition of The Lion in the Room Next Door.

Custodial history

Merilyn Simonds donated the correspondence between Phyllis Halliday and Joseph David Cleroux and one manuscript copy of her book in progress to Queen's University Archives in September 1994. The remainder of the Convict Lover material came in the accrual of 2007. The Phyllis Halliday material was located for many years in the attic of the Phyllis Halliday's, then Merilyn Simonds', house. Wrapped in bundles, tied together with ribbon and placed in numerous containers, this material remained undisturbed until discovered by Ms. Simonds in 1987.

Scope and content

The fonds is comprised of records that reflect the research and writing process of Merilyn Simonds in her activity as a writer of a variety of publications over a 30 year period. The records illustrate Simonds process, method and practice for writing newspaper articles, periodicals, non-fiction guides, literary non-fiction and fiction. The fonds has been arranged in the following series: Adminstrative files; Journalism; Projects; and Audio Visual.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated by Ms. Merilyn Simonds - 1994 (2303.4), 2007 (5064), 2011(2319).


The original order of the Phyllis sub-series, as first found by Ms. Simonds in the attic of her house, has been maintained as closely as possible. However, following upon the desire of the donor, the classification scheme, as developed by Merilyn Simonds during the course of her research and writing, relating to the method and physical containers in which the material was housed, has also been kept. Hence, the combination "alpha-numeric" (e.g. "BTL10") indexing found in bold lettering under the heading marked 'File Title' in the "File List". Moreover, and again in accordance with the wishes of the donor, a "calendar" system of description has been employed in order to assist the reader of this inventory. In other words, and in what is a throwback to an earlier archival era, a short description of the contents of each letter, envelope, sheet of toilet paper, and the like --and in this case taken from that supplied by the donor-- has been provided. Also, dates have been inserted where known; otherwise where no date is found, it has been assumed that the correspondence was written sometime between October 1919 and July 1921. In this regard, researchers should confer with the 'Typescript of Letters' mentioned below. The 2011 acrrual of material was maintained in the order in which it was donated.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Location of originals

F5 A10

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access


Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Copyright provisions may apply, please consult archivist.

Associated materials

Related materials


Further accruals are expected

Alternative identifier(s)

Standard number area

Standard number

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Control area

Description record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules or conventions


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language of description

Script of description


Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related places

Related genres

Location (use this to request the file)

  • Shelf: 2303.4
  • Shelf: 2319
  • Shelf: 5064
  • Shelf: F5 A10
  • Shelf: SR1137.1-SR1137.2
  • Shelf: SR1158-SR1158.4
  • Shelf: 2319.9
  • Shelf: 2358.2
  • Shelf: MI 158
  • Shelf: MI 189
  • Shelf: 2291.14