Canadian novelist and playwright Timothy Findley, whose work has been seen at the Stratford Festival and elsewhere, died June 20 in Provence, France, after an illness, the festival reported.
Mr. Findley, 71, was also an actor, a part of the 1953 first season of at Stratford, Ontario. He would later return as a playwright. "He was a great friend of the Festival, a friend of mine and a friend of the arts in Canada," Stratford artistic director Richard Monette said in a statement. "We mourn his loss."
The prestigious festival produced Mr. Findley's play, The Stillborn Lover, in 1995, and in 2000 commissioned Elizabeth Rex, which enjoyed great success at Stratford and went on to win the 2000 Governor-General's Award for Drama. Elizabeth Rex has since been produced across North America and recently opened in England.
Mr. Findley's The Trials of Ezra Pound received its stage premiere at the festival's Tom Patterson Theatre in the 2001 season and his newest play, Shadows, begins previews Aug. 17 in the Studio Theatre. At the time of his death he was developing another work, The Trojan Women, to be produced on the Festival stage at Stratford in the future.
His book, "Not Wanted on the Voyage," was adapted for the stage and presented at the National Theatre School and Necessary Angel. Mr. Findley received his early stage training in Toronto, where he was born in 1930. According to the Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia, Mr. Findley was raised in the privileged Toronto neighborhood of Rosedale in a family of "failed men," as he once said in interview — a brother died in childhood and Mr. Findley, his father and another brother were alcoholics.
After the 1953 season at Stratford ended, festival artistic director Tyrone Guthrie helped him, along with a handful of other young actors, to attend the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England. Mr. Findley graduated from the school in 1954 and played in London's West End, on Broadway and in Moscow before leaving the stage in 1962 to pursue his writing career.
Mr. Findley first achieved renown as a writer with his 1977 novel "The Wars," which won the Governor-General's Award for English fiction. It was made into a film in 1981 by former Stratford Festival artistic director Robin Phillips, with Brent Carver, William Hutt, Martha Henry and many other festival actors taking roles. Mr. Findley's last novel, "Spadework" (2001), is set in Stratford and has as its main character a fictional Stratford Festival actor.
In addition to Governor-General's Awards for "The Wars" and Elizabeth Rex, Mr. Findley was the winner of the Canadian Authors Association Award, the Ontario Trillium Award, and the ACTRA Award (with his longtime partner William Whitehead). He was a founding member and chairperson of the Writers' Union of Canada, and served a term as president of the Canadian chapter of PEN International. In 1986, he was invested as an Officer of the Order of Canada and, in 1991, he was named to the Order of Ontario. He was also a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. Mr. Findley and Mr. Whitehead had homes in France and in Stratford. (Mr. Findley was briefly married to actress Janet Reid, but the marriage was annulled.)
There will be memorial services for Mr. Findley in Stratford and in Toronto. Further details will be announced.