After David Stouck's Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (D&M, 2013) was nominated for the 2014 RBC Charles Taylor Non-Fiction Prize in early 2014, Stouck received both the Roderick Haig-Brown Prize for best book about B.C. and the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize at the 2014 B.C. Book Prizes on May 3, 2014. Then came the news that he would be the second recipient of the Basil Stuart-Stubbs Prize for best scholarly book about British Columbia, presented at UBC Library on June 5, 2014. The judges for this award had met and made their decision back on February 3, 2014 (Basil Stuart-Stubbs' birthday).

On behalf of the judging committee, historian Roderick Barman wrote: "An iconic figure in the cultural heritage of British Columbia, Arthur Erickson (1924-2009) has received in David Stouck's new biography a thoroughly researched, revealing, and honest yet friendly study of his complex character, notable achievements and marked failings. The judges of the Basil Stuart Stubbs prize are honoured to give this year's award to Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2013). This well-written, finely-crafted work elucidates not only the individual but the culture - provincial, national and global - in which he lived, which shaped him and which he himself did much to shape.

A review in Macleans magazine stated, "Stouck... offers a serious, sympathetic portrait of a walking contradiction." BC Studies praised the book, saying, "David Stouck has written a remarkable history. More than a biography, it is an encompassing account of a remarkable figure in later modern Canadian and international cultural history."

Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life is the first full biography of Erickson, who died in 2009 at the age of 84, and traces his life from its modest origins to his emergence on the world stage. At the BC Book Prizes gala, Stouck thanked Ethel Wilson's niece, Mary Buckerfield White, for suggesting he should write the biography of her friend, Erickson. "It was an enormous privilege to approach and study the man whose buildings and their theoretical extensions have had such an impact on our lives," said Stouck, when accepting the Haig-Brown Prize, "I thank my wife Mary-Ann for agreeing to travel to some unlikely parts of the world in the footsteps of my subject. I thank my friend Wayne Elwood and my editor Barbara Pulling for their professional help in reducing the original manuscript by 40,000 words. The biography was published because of two venerable figures in this province's publishing industry. Scott McIntyre responded enthusiastically to the manuscript when I submitted it in 2011 and, after Douglas and McIntyre closed, Howard White in 2013 made it possible that the book go forward. I thank them both. I would also like to pay tribute to Roderick Haig-Brown for whom this prize is named, by quoting something that Ethel Wilson wrote. 'A man writes about a river,' she says, but 'Roderick Haig-Brown writes about a river that never sleeps. That is to say, there is truth and there is creation; the outward eye and the inward eye. And that is one of the mysteries that make literature.' And I would add that it is only with the inward eye that we truly perceive the buildings of Arthur Erickson."

During the B.C. Book Prizes gala in 2014, the host asked if anyone had ever met Ethel Wilson, born in 1888, after whom the province's annual fiction prize is named. David Stouck was the only person able to put up his hand. Stouck's Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography (UTP, 2003) replaces a much earlier study by Wilson's colleague Desmond Pacey and a more recent portrait by her intensely loyal friend Mary McAlpine called the The Other Side of Silence. McAlpine's biography is inaccurate and doesn't explore the genesis of Wilson's stories and novels with much depth. Stouck's biography benefits from painstaking research into Wilson's voluminous correspondence, revealing how the fiction and the life were meshed. It is the most complete and fair-minded biography of a major British Columbian literary figure if one disregards the relative 'drop-ins' to B.C., Malcolm Lowry and Pauline Johnson. Despite its literary and scholarly mandate, Stouck's Ethel Wilson biography was shortlisted for the 2004 VanCity Book Prize for best book pertaining to women's issues by a B.C. author.

[Whereas E. Bennett Metcalfe's fascinating and frequently brilliant biography of Roderick Haig-Brown, A Man of Some Importance, goes out of its way to be contentious, Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography is responsible scholarship that reveals Wilson's character with consistent respect and care. The other persons after whom B.C. Book Prizes are named--poet Dorothy Livesay, bookseller Bill Duthie, children's literature critic Sheila A. Egoff and children's author Christie Harris--are not subjects for biographies, although Livesay most certainly will be. Alan Twigg's Hubert Evans: The First Ninety-Three Years was never intended to serve as a biography and was commissioned as a series of introductions to Evans' work for an omnibus reader that was never published.]

David Stouck has been one of the relatively few English professors with an abiding critical interest in British Columbia writing. Along with his biography of Ethel Wilson, he has provided a biography of Sinclair Ross, the author of As for Me and My House, who spent his final years in Vancouver. He followed his Sinclair Ross biography by co-editing a collection of Ross's correspondence entitled "Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun": Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933-1986, with Jordan Stouck.

CITY: West Vancouver


PLACE OF BIRTH: Beamsville, Ontario




Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life
Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography
Ethel Wilson: Stories, Essays, and Letters


Arthur Erickson: An Architect's Life (Douglas & McIntyre, 2013) $34.95 978-1-77100-011-6
Collecting Stamps Would Have Been More Fun: Canadian Publishing and the Correspondence of Sinclair Ross, 1933-1986 (University of Alberta Press, 2010), co-edited with Jordan Stouck.
As for Sinclair Ross, (University of Toronto Press, 2005)
Ethel Wilson: A Critical Biography, (University of Toronto Press, 2003)
Genius of Place: Writing about British Columbia (co-ed.), (Polestar, 2000)
West by Northwest: British Columbia Short Stories (co-ed.), (Polestar, 1998)
Willa Cather's O Pioneers!: A Scholarly Edition (co-ed.), (U Nebraska Press, 1993)
Sinclair Ross's 'As for Me and My House': Five Decades of Criticism, (ed.) (University of Toronto Press, 1991)
Ethel Wilson: Stories, Essays, and Letters (ed.), (UBC Press, 1987)
The Wardells and Vosburghs: Records of a Loyalist Family, Jordan Hist. Museum of the Twenty, 1986
Major Canadian Authors: A Critical Introduction Lincoln (University of Nebraska Press, 1984)
Willa Cather's Imagination (University of Nebraska Press, 1975)

[BCBW 2014] "Literary Biography" "Classic"