You gotta admire grit combined with intelligence and humour. Jancis M. Andrews' angry and fascinating The Ballad of Mrs. Smith (Hedgerow 2013) brims with all three. Having been raised in an abusive home, she ran away and became a juvenile delinquent. After she gained a Creative Writing degree at age 53, Andrews was left by her husband ten years later. When he refused to pay alimony, her life cascaded from the British Properties to the Downtown Eastside. At 65, she had to lie about her age to get a job as a cleaner in a boys' school in England. While living in Sechelt at age 78, she penned a bristling poetry memoir about a fictionalized character named Mrs. S. who undergoes similar experiences. It was nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Award.

Jancis Maureen Andrews writes as Jancis M. Andrews. She was born in Bartram Place, a pit village in Northumbria, England. At 14 she ran away from a violent and abusive home life and refused to go back to school. She was placed in reform school and classified as a juvenile delinquent. She joined the Women's Royal Navy at 18, serving in Malta as a radio operator. She married a sailor when she was 21.

Emigrating in 1965 with her husband, son and daughter, she moved with her family to West Vancouver in 1971. She started correspondence courses at age 37 (grade 9) in order to complete high school, then moved onto studies at Capilano College.

Her critically acclaimed short story collection, Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair, appeared in 1992, published by Ron Hatch, who had only recently started Ronsdale Press. She has also contributed to the anthologies The Heart of the Community (New Star, 2003), How I Learned to Speak Dog (D&M, 1995 and The Book of Eros (Pond and Russo, Harmony Press, NY, 1994). Her second short story collection, Walking on Water, was released in 2009.

She acquired her B.F.A.(UBC) when she was 53. "My husband walked out after 43 years, wouldn't pay wife support, so at age 65 I worked as a cleaning lady to help me buy my little house here in Sechelt, where I invited two homeless cats to live with me. Now the three of us sleep in the same bed, which is highly uncomfortable (for me, not them)."

The ten stories in Jancis M. Andrews' Walking on Water (Cormorant $21) reflect her residency on the West Coast, centred on Vancouver, as well as her memories of surviving the London blitz. Her autobiographical Blitz story "Country of Evil"; won Event magazine's non-fiction award and was a finalist in the Western Magazine Awards. The other stories are primarily fictional.

CITY/TOWN: Sechelt, B.C.

DATE OF BIRTH: January 2, 1934

PLACE OF BIRTH: Earsdon, Northumberland, England

ARRIVAL IN CANADA: 26 November 1965




AWARDS: Non-Fiction, "Country of Evil," Event, Oct. 2003; 1st prize, "Grandmothers in Chinatown" Vancouver Sun, 1991; 3rd prize, "Mrs. Smith Learns She Has a Brain Tumour," Portraits, Puyallup, WA. 1989; Bankson Mem. Prize, (novel) UBC, 1985.


Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Hair And Other Stories (Ronsdale Press, 1992)

Walking on Water (Cormorant, 2009) $21 978-1-897151-17-4

The Ballad of Mrs. Smith (Hedgerow Press 2013) - poetry/memoir 978-1-926618-01-2 $16

[BCBW 2013] "Fiction"