_______________________ ___________________________| | |_______________________ _George Porter ELLIS _| | | _______________________ | |___________________________| | |_______________________ | |--Madeleine Blanche ELLIS | | _Edward FITZMAURICE ___+ | _Thomas James FITZMAURICE _| | | |_Mary Celestine KEENS _+ |_Lilian FITZMAURICE __| | _George HOEY __________+ |_Priscilla HOEY ___________| |_Emma WILKINSON _______+
Writer and Professor of French, Italian and Latin languages and literatures, Madeleine Blanche Ellis was born in Vancouver, B.C. At the University of British Columbia, where she won annual Carnegie Foundation Scholarships, she took an Honours B.A. and M.A. degree in French and Latin Languages and Literatures. For the rest of her life, she has lived in Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania), Toronto, Montreal, and Europe (mainly Paris, Geneva and Florence). After a year's engagement as "French Scholar" at Bryn Mawr College, she completed her courses for the Doctorate in French, Italian and Languages and Literatures.
While working on her thesis, she was engaged for four years (1940-1944) as German and Italian translator and interpreter in the Intelligence Branch of the R.C.M.P. Headquarters in Toronto. While there, she distinguished herself for the quality of her work. For example, in 1941, the O.C. of the "O" Division fo the R.C.M.P. in toronto, at the instigation of the court of Fredericton (where the cases of persons arrested under the Defence of Canada Regulations were heard), requested that M.B. Ellis be commended for a Frief prepared by her, regarding the Italian Fascist Party in Niagara Falls. Another example: in 1942, Ellis received a telegram from L.B. Pearson of the Department of External Affairs, offering her "confidential government position in Ottawa, where exact knowledge of French is required." The telegram was immediately followed by a letter signed by Lester B. Pearson, eplaining that the work offered is "extremely confidential, requires a high degree of discretion and trustworthiness and a scholar's knowledge of written French. It is...directly connected with the war...This is as far as I can go on paper." Ellis declined the offer, however, so that she might remain in Toronto and complete all requirements for her doctorate at the University of Toronto.
In 1944, she received her Ph.D. from U. of T. (in French, Italian & Latin...) and immediately accepted a position as Assistant Professor of French at the same university where she lectured on French pre-classicism, classicism, romanticism, realism, naturalism, symbolism and existentialism in the novel, drama and poetry. In 1946, she accepted a position as French profesor at a Montreal college affiliated with the Universite de Montreal, where she remained based for 35 years. During that same period, she also gave courses on History of Education at the Paedagogical Institute in Montreal and summer courses at U. of T., Universite Laval in Quebec City, and at the University of Orange Free State in South Africa. Since the beginning of her career, she has always combined teaching with writing. She has also participated in international congresses, both at McGill University, Montreal, and in Paris (1978-1995).
Years ago, M.B. Ellis established a Foundation to award annual scholarships in perpetuity to encourage students of the humanities (especialy literature, whatever the language) to study at University College, University of Toronto.
In the mid-80's, Dr. Ellis renounced her full professorship to devote herself exclusively to writing of a kind unlike anything she had done before. She changed direction and began a new phase in her literary life. She began with the first of a trilogy of fictionalized biographies, entitled "A Song of Lilia." It tells the story of a woman who is not an illustrious personage but leads an extraordinary and impressive life. The story recounts not merely events but also the spiritual and intellectual evolution of the heroine from her birth in Durban, to her death in Montreal.
"Lilia" marks a dramatic new departure in the author's life that has previously been devoted to sholarly studies of the French Eighteenth Century, particularly Jean-Jacques Rousseau, although when she first moved to Montreal, and came into contact with Quebec culture, she published two monographs on the literature of French Canada. In spring 2000, she published the second title of trilogy, "Marie-Celestine: Countess de la Roche."
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