Beynon Aleta Day (Virago Modern Classics)

ISBN 13: 9780140162257

Aleta Day (Virago Modern Classics)

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9780140162257: Aleta Day (Virago Modern Classics)

Francis Marion Beynon (26 May 1884 - 5 October 1951) was a Canadian journalist, feminist and pacifist. She is known for her semi-autobiographical novel Aleta Day (1919). Francis Marion Beynon was born in Streetsville, Ontario on 26 May 1884. Her parents were James Barnes Benyon (1835–1907) and Rebecca (Manning) Beynon (1847–1898). They married in 1872. Both parents were convinced Methodists, a faith she would later reject, and teetallers. Her sister was Lillian Beynon Thomas (1874–1961). Her family moved to Manitoba in 1889 when she was a child and took up farming in the Hartney district. She earned a teaching certificate and taught near Carman for some time. Around 1909 Beynon and her sister moved to Winnipeg, where Francis found work in the advertising department of the T. Eaton Company, a department store. Both sisters were active in fighting for women's suffrage, changes to dower legislation and the right of women to homestead. From 1912 to 1917 Beynon edited the woman's pages ("The Country Homemaker's Page" and "The Sunshine Guild") of the Grain Growers' Guide. She also was responsible for the children's pages under the pseudonym "Dixie Patton" and wrote an anonymous column, "Country Girl's Ideas." She used the women's pages to discuss women's suffrage, women's work, marriage and the family. Beynon and her sister helped found the Quill Club and the Winnipeg branch of the Canadian Women's Press Club. She was one of the organizers of the Manitoba Political Equality League, which led the struggle in Manitoba for women's suffrage. Beynon was a social feminist. She accepted that women should be responsible for care of the home and of children, but felt this should not preclude them from education, property rights and discussion of political issues. She felt that women should stand on their own feet, and that husband and wife should share responsibility and success. During World War I (1914–18) Beynon supported giving all immigrants the right to vote, opposed conscription without a plebiscite, and believed these issues should be freely discussed in public. She, her sister Lillian, Nellie McClung and Ella Cora Hind helped bring about the defeat of Rodmond Roblin's Manitoba government in 1915, and helped ensure that his successor T.C. Norris gave full suffrage to women in provincial elections from 1916.

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From the Back Cover:

Francis Marion Beynon’s autobiographical novel Aleta Dey is increasingly recognised as a small classic of early twentieth-century fiction. Beynon was a journalist and feminist much involved in public affairs in early twentieth-century Manitoba. In 1917, aged 33, she was forced to leave her job as a result of her open pacifism, and she soon moved to New York where she dropped out of the public eye. Aleta Dey, first published in 1919, tells in plain and affecting prose the story of a girl growing up in Manitoba, becoming politically conscious, and falling in love with McNair, a man of much more conventional views. The First World War brings a crisis for them both after McNair enlists as a soldier.

Though Beynon was a Canadian, her spare, emotionally open prose may have less in common with that of other Canadian writers of the time than it does with the style of contemporaneous western American women writers such as Willa Cather and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Like Cather’s My Antonia, Beynon’s Aleta Dey resonates with prairie simplicity, passion, and strength.

From Publishers Weekly:

Like the author of this autobiographical novel originally published in 1919, Aleta spurns the rigid conventionality of her rural Canadian upbringing to become a journalist, suffragist and pacifist in Winnipeg. As the Great War looms and Canadians become increasingly militaristic, she concludes that "the only conquering force in the world is love." Her faith is severely tested when she meets and becomes infatuated with McNair--a man who believes in patriotic soldiering and holds traditional views about women and men. Their intense emotions supported by mutual respect and by searching, intellectual conversations at her fireside, they do find common ground. But when McNair joins the army, Aleta redoubles her anti-war activities with a fervor that earns her imprisonment and eventually leads to tragedy. Despite a rather plain, serviceable prose style, Beynon effectively communicates her heroine's strong convictions, bravery and grace, and even lends her unlikely love affair a persuasive romanticism. Aleta's belief in war's essential immorality remains pertinent today, as does the example of a woman creating the life of her own choosing.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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