Oscar Skelton (1878-1941) was a prominent early-twentieth century scholar who became a civil servant and political advisor to prime ministers Mackenzie King and R.B. Bennett. He wrote a number of important books and one,Socialism: A Critical Analysis, was highly praised by Vladimir Lenin. His wife, Isabel Skelton (1877-1956), wrote extensively about literature and history; she was the first historian to treat women from the country's past individually in their own right rather than as a generalized category. Both husband and wife promoted the idea that Canada was an independent nation that no longer needed Britain's tutelage.
Terry Crowley has written a unique double biography that examines the lives of Isabel and Oscar, their works, and their careers. He shows how both individuals in their own way influenced the development of Canada as a nation state. Crowley questions why, when both Isabel and Oscar wrote influential works, Oscar's career blossomed, while Isabel remains virtually unrecognized. He concludes that despite Isabel's literary accomplishments, her life remained enmeshed in domestic and family roles, while Oscar's rise to prominence was facilitated by male scholarly and publishing networks as well as the support that women provided to men's careers. This book traces the lives of two people who rejected British colonialism and hailed a new nation on the world's stage, examining the intersections of gender, nationality, and literary expression at a significant juncture in Canada's history.
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