Farley Mowat Biography
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|Birthdate:||12 May 1921|
Mowat was born in Belleville, Ontario, and grew up in Windsor, Ontario, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He studied at the University of Toronto but left to enlist in the army at the beginning of World War II (1939-1945). After the war, the Canadian government sent him to the Arctic to study wolves, an experience which led to his most important early books, including People of the Deer (1952), Lost in the Barrens (1956), and Never Cry Wolf (1963). He returned to the University of Toronto, where he received a B.A. degree in 1949. In subsequent years he spent long periods living in small Newfoundland villages and on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.
Mowat’s first book, People of the Deer, indicts the Canadian government for its treatment of the Inuit and is based on his observations from living in the Arctic. Its publication brought Mowat immediate celebrity and controversy, which stayed with him throughout his career. He published The Desperate People, a follow-up book on the Inuit, in 1959. His experience in the Arctic also provided the foundation for Never Cry Wolf, an influential and sympathetic account of the lives of wolves. These early books established Mowat as a writer who used sharply told tales to support his positions on environmental and political matters.
The books were controversial not only for their positions but for Mowat’s emphasis on good storytelling at the expense of strict factual accuracy. He defended his style by describing his work as “subjective nonfiction,” which remains true to the essence of facts and experience. He also criticized the treatment of the Inuit and the abuse of the environment in Canada North (1967), Canada North Now: The Great Betrayal (1976), A Whale for the Killing (1972), and The Sea of Slaughter (1984). In 1985 his outspoken pronouncements led the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service to bar him temporarily from entering the country, an episode he happily satirized in My Discovery of America (1985).