Félicité Angers, who wrote under the pseudonym of Laure Conan, is reputed to be Canada’s earliest female French-Canadian novelist. Conan’s oeuvre includes Angéline de Montbrun (1884), which is regarded as Canada’s first great psychological novel and her best-known work. Laure Conan’s novels began to be published in 1879 with Un Amour vrai and continue to be reprinted in French to this day. English translations of her prolific body of work are not available, with the exception of Angéline de Montbrun (trans. 1974, Yves Brunelle) and an early (1909) translation of À l’oeuvre et à l’épreuve published as The Master Motive: a tale of the days of Champlain, an historical fiction. Conan’s work has received little critical attention from contemporary scholars and virtually none from Anglo-Canadian scholars.
Born in 1845, Angers lived most of her life at her family’s home in La Malbaie, Québec. She was educated at the Québec Ursuline Monastery, North America’s oldest instituion of learning for women. She remained single, devoting her life to the pen instead of the hearth. These choices would have been considered, if not bizarre, at least decidely non-conformist by her contemporaries.
Nation was an important preoccupation of Angers’ time and place. Angers was twenty-three years old on the original Canada Day when British North America Act formed the nation of Canada from the provinces. Undoubtably conscious of the project of nation building and devoutly religious, Angers tended towards writing historical romances and biographies of national and religious heroes.
A pioneer of women’s and French-Canadian literature, Féliceté Anger’s political and patriotic work is a singular testament to her times. (Marlene Wurfel)
Updated February 12 2015 by Student & Academic Services