Swan, Susan

Susan Jane Swan, novelist, journalist, educator (b at Midland, Ont 9 Jun 1945). After studying English literature at McGill University (BA, 1967), Swan began a career in journalism as education reporter for The Toronto Telegram. Since 1969, she has worked as a freelance writer, contributing articles and book reviews for Canadian and international publications. She has written several pieces for the stage, including Queen of the Silver Blades (1975), about figure-skater Barbara Ann SCOTT. Swan is an associate professor of Humanities at York University and serves as vice chair of the Writers' Union of Canada.

Swan's first book, Unfit for Paradise (1982), is a collection of ten short stories modelled on actual accounts of privileged vacationers in the tropics. It was adapted to the stage and performed in 1983. Swan's first novel, The Biggest Modern Woman in the World (1983), is based on the life and legends of 19th-century Nova Scotian giantess Anna SWAN, who was exhibited by American showman P.T. Barnum. It was shortlisted for the GOVERNOR GENERAL'S AWARD. Her second novel, The Last of the Golden Girls (1989), focuses on friendship and sexual awakening amongst teenage girls, territory explored to even greater effect in the gothic novel The Wives of Bath (1993). In this, her most accomplished work, Swan draws upon her experiences in the 1960s as a student boarder at Toronto's Havergal College. The novel was adapted for the screen by Judith Thompson and was turned into the feature film Lost and Delirious (2001).

Swan's other works include Mothers Talk Back: Momz Radio (1992), interviews centred on the theme of motherhood, co-edited with Sarah Sheard and Margaret Dragu; and Stupid Boys Are Good to Relax With (1996), a collection of conventional short stories and "cyber" stories. Swan returned to the novel with What Casanova Told Me (2004), in which a young Canadian archivist explores the journals of her ancestor, Asked For Adams, a fictitious travelling companion of Giacomo Casanova.