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Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography

By Katja Lee
Subjects Biography & Autobiography, Cultural Studies, Social Science, Women’s Studies, Life Writing
Series Life Writing Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781771124294, 368 pages, February 2020
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771124317, 368 pages, February 2020
Ebook (PDF) : 9781771124300, 368 pages, February 2020

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Introduction: From Clara Morris to Clara Hughes: The Tricky Business of Being a Famous Woman
1. The Changing Faces of Fame in Canada
2. Strictly Professional: An Age of Image Control, 1890-1930
3. The Rise of the Private Life: When Offstage Moved Onstage, 1930-1980
4. More Visible and Valuable Than Ever Before: Celebrity Lives in the Limelight, 1990s+
Coda: Is There a Future for Celebrity Autobiography in a Digital Age?


At the heart of fame is the tricky business of image management. Over the last 115 years, the celebrity autobiography has emerged as a popular and useful tool for that project. In Limelight, Katja Lee examines the memoirs of famous Canadian women like L. M. Montgomery, Nellie McClung, the Dionne Quintuplets, Margaret Trudeau, and Shania Twain to trace the rise of celebrity autobiography in Canada and the role gender has played in the rise to fame and in writing about that experience.
Arguing that the celebrity autobiography is always negotiating historically specific conditions, Lee charts a history of celebrity in English Canada and the conditions that shape the way women access and experience fame. These contexts shed light on the stories women tell about their lives and the public images they cultivate in their autobiographies. As strategies of self-representation change and the pressure to represent the private life escalates, the celebrity autobiography undergoes distinct shifts—in form, function, and content—during the period examined in this study.
Limelight: Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography is the first book to explore the history and development of the celebrity autobiography and offers compelling evidence of the critical role of gender and nation in the way fame is experienced and represented.


  • Short-listed, Gabrielle Roy Prize 2020


Limelight charts the evolution of Canadian culture over a century and, in an engaging and accessible style, examines the way Canadian celebrities operate in a global celebrityscape—the ways in which the national and the global interact—with important implications for citizenship. Limelight is informative, entertaining, thought-provoking, and authoritative.

- Gillian Roberts, University of Nottingham, editor of Reading between the Borderlines (2018) and Parallel Encounters (WLU Press, 2013)