Helen McLean's prose is lucid and evocative. She is at her best in conveying the appeal of a place where she feels spiritually at home, whether that is a spartan cottage on Lake Ontario or a villa in the vineyards of Piemonte. This multi-talented artist is an inspiration to all women and proves that it is never too late to achieve self-fulfilment.    

Canadian Book Review Annual.


About Helen McLean

Helen McLean  was born in Toronto, BA University of Toronto,  MA University of Calgary.  She has followed a dual career as an artist and writer. Her paintings are in many private and public collections, including the Margaret Laurence Home in Neepawa, Manitoba and The Bank of Canada, Ottawa.

She is the author of two novels, Of All the Summers and Significant Things,  two memoirs, Sketching From Memory and Details From a Larger Canvas, and a collection of essays, Just Looking and Other Essays. Her novel Significant Things was shortlisted for the 2004 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Canada/Caribbean division.

Her articles, reviews and essays have appeared in The Globe & Mail, Brick, The National Post, Books in Canada, Literary Review of Canada, Quill and Quire, Room of One’s Own, Ars Medica and Accenti Magazine.

Helen has lived in Toronto Utica N.Y., London England, Calgary, Alberta, and on a farm near Peterborough Ontario.  She now makes her home in Toronto. Her new novel  The Man and The Woman  will be published by Cormorant Books in October 2014

In Helen’s words

Like many women of my vintage I still scavenge the bones of the Christmas turkey to make what my children call “depression soup.” World War II was being waged during my high school years. In the summers my friends and I worked in fruit-picking camps in the Niagara Peninsula, while back in Toronto there were so few cars on the streets that we could almost freewheel our bicycles down Spadina Avenue to the ferry docks without putting on the brakes.

When my children were young I painted when I could and wrote and illustrated what were called “think pieces” for the  Globe and Mail. From the late sixties through the early nineties I concentrated on painting and my work found its way into many private and public collections, including that of the Bank of Canada in Ottawa. My portrait of Margaret Laurence hangs in the Margaret Laurence Home in Neepawa, Manitoba.

My first book, a memoir called Sketching From Memory, was published in 1994, and the thrill of holding my own book in my hand led me to turn more of my attention to writing. A second memoir, a collection of essays and two novels have followed. My novel Significant Things was shortlisted for the 2004 Commonwealth Best Book Prize, Canada & Caribbean division.

The editors of my 1945 high school yearbook predicted that I would go on to illustrate my own best-seller, and they were partly right. Of my five published books my own artwork has appeared on all but one.

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