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Robert Harlow

Robert Harlow 2001

Robert_HarlowIn 2001, Robert Harlow became the seventh recipient of the George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award for an Outstanding Literary Career in British Columbia.

Harlow was born in Prince Rupert November 19, 1923. Brought up in Prince George, he joined the RCAF at the end of 1941, trained as a pilot and flew Lancasters and Halifaxes from bases in England. He was discharged April, 1945, Flying Officer, DFC. Harlow attended UBC 1945-48 (BA English) and was a member of Earle Birney’s writing workshop. He was the first Canadian to be invited to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop 1948-51 (MFA).

He returned to B.C. and joined the CBC as a Public Affairs producer. In 1953 he became Station Manager, Vancouver, and from 1954-1964 was the CBC’s Director of Radio, B.C. Region. Harlow joined Earle Birney’s Writing Programme at UBC in the Fall of 1964, and when Birney left in 1965, he became Head of the newly-formed Department of Creative Writing, the first such department in the country.

He retired as head in 1977 but taught in the department until 1988. Robert Harlow’s novels Royal Murdoch (1962), A Gift of Echoes (1965) and The Saxophone Winter (1988) explore and psychologically map his central B.C. roots, as does his technically complex and dream-like Scann (1972) centred on a small-town newspaper editor.

Making Arrangements (1978) is a comic novel about horse racing; Paul Nolan (1983) is an urban novel about male frustrations; Felice is based on a trip Harlow made to Poland. Harlow has resided on Mayne Island as of 1990. Since then he has prepared his WWII novel Necessary Dark for Print on Demand (POD) availability from the internet. “POD is the future,” he says, “and will be the future for status quo publishers and those who find agents, editorial annointment (meaning the sales department) and current methods of distribution less than tasty.”


Necessary Dark Oolichan, 2003
The Saxophone Winter, Douglas & McIntyre, 1988
FELICE: A Travelogue, Oolichan, 1985
Paul Nolan, McClelland and Stewart, 1983
Making Arrangements, McClelland And Stewart, 1978
Scann, Sono Nis Press, 1972
A Gift of Echoes, Macmillan of Canada, 1965
Royal Murdoch, Macmillan of Canada, 1962