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100th Anniversary Edition

UNB Perspectives Alumni Edition | Vol. 10, No.3| October 1983

Ten years after: Richards returns to university

ALUMNI NEWS MAGAZINE | 100th Anniversary Edition

It is probably safe to assume that in 1973, when David Adams Richards was publishing his first novel, he did not imagine himself ten years later succeeding his late friend and mentor Alden Nowlan as writer-in-residence at UNB.

But, as Mr. Richards so deftly demonstrates in his writings, the patterns of people's lives often overlap in the most unlikely ways.  

A native of Newcastle, N.B., Mr. Richards was inspired to become a writer after  
he read Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist at age 14. He became a voracious reader, studying with particular attention the novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. After graduation from high school Mr. Richards flirted with the idea of joining the staff of The Daily Gleaner who were, in the late 1960s, looking for writers. At their suggestion he learned to type (an invaluable aid to his profession, he notes), but when he learned he would be hired as a sportswriter, he opted instead to attend St. Thomas University.  

While there he met regularly in McCord Hall with a group of published writers known to some as the "Tuesday Night Group" or the "Ice House Gang;' Among them were UNB English department members Kent Thompson, Robert Gibbs, William and Nancy Bauer, and several promising students including Richards himself, Michael Pacey (BA '75, BEd '76) and Brian Bartlett (BA '75).  

Mr. Richards received much encouragement from the group. His short story "The Fire" was included in Kent Thompson's Stories From Atlantic Canada and when the Tuesday night group established a publication series called New Brunswick Chapbooks, Mr. Richards' poems appeared under the title Small Heroics.  

Mr. Richards also met and developed a close relationship with then writer-in­residence Alden Nowlan. Bolstered by his support and the positive response of the Tuesday night group, he sent the manuscript of The Coming of Winter to Oberon Press in Ottawa in 1973.  

When it was almost immediately accepted for publication, he left university to become a full-time writer. He was 22.  

He returned to Newcastle, using it as a base of operations and as a setting for his books. One reviewer in Books in Canada said of his work: "Like William Faulkner he takes the place he knows best and creates a world in which past and present mingle to make people and events work as they do.”  

Mr. Richards' novels are I, all of which have been chosen for publication by the New Canadian Library, ensuring them of a long life in print. His collection of short stories is entitled Dancers at Night. Mr. Richards' study of the Russian novel has had interesting consequences. The Coming of Winter was translated into Russian and printed in an edition of 250,000 copies.  

Recently, while on a one-month stint as writer-in-residence at Mount Allison University he tried his hand at a new medium. His play, Water Carriers, Bones & Earls-The Life of Francois Villon, was produced by the university's theatre group. 

Although he has spent the past seven years in his hometown, returning to Fredericton is in many ways like returning to his roots. It is here that his writing career began, nurtured by this community of writers. He maintained close ties with his Fredericton friends and (now) colleagues, and participated as a student and teacher in the Maritime Writers Workshop.  

As the 1983-84 writer-in-residence, Mr. Richards will give public readings and work with students on both campuses. He will be a guest lecturer in creative writing and Canadian literature courses and work in an advisory capacity with the Creative Arts Committee.  

His byline will appear in UNB Perspectives from time to time. And he plans to complete a fourth "Miramichi" novel this fall.  

Mr. Richards can be found on Mondays and Wednesdays in Carleton Hall, room 329.  


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