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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Merrill Denison

McClelland and Stewart in Toronto publishes Merrill Denison's play anthology The Unheroic North. The editors of Highways of Canadian Literature praise the anthology's realistic dramas the following year as "a significant beginning of creative Stage Drama in Canada."

Denison's three one-act comedies, Brothers in Arms, From Their Own Place, The Weather Breeder, and the full-length social problem play about teenage pregnancy and abortion, Marsh Hay, deflate Canadian myths about the romantic North and its heroic backwoodsmen.

The Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris, in his review essay "Winning a Canadian Background" published in the February 1923 Canadian Bookman, lauds The Unheroic North as the first authentic, entirely indigenous literary work done by a Canadian. "It is the most important contribution our literature has as yet received and marks definitely a step in the winning of a background…In Mr. Denison's book there is not a sentence or a phrase that is not saturated with the tang of the land, not a character that does not ring and murmur and move true, not a situation that is false or forced. Here is no rhetoric, no smug romance, no varnish, no hiding of the head in the sand."