Isabel Ecclestone Mackay

Posted by Daniel on Jul 20, 2009 - 6 comments

A literary note today. Brian Busby, former resident of BC and blogger at The Dusty Bookcase (, has posted an entry on Vancouver's own Isabel Ecclestone Mackay, early 20th century novelist and poet.

According to Alan Twigg's estimable guide, Vancouver and Its Writers, Mackay (pictured at left) was "early Vancouver's major female novelist". She moved to the city in 1909 at the age of 33 with her husband and wrote all her major works here, as well as hosting a literary salon at her West End home. Along with several collections of poetry, she wrote five novels. I have not read them, but going by Brian's comments they seem to deal with important social issues: prostitution (or white slavery, as it was then fashionable to call sex work), drugs, women's suffrage.

Mackay was an intimate friend of Pauline Johnson, helping to raise money for the publication of Legends of Vancouver and serving as Johnson's executrix when she died. It is good to see attention being paid.