Ahead of Her Time: Select Writings of Dora Russell
Few today have ever heard of Dora Russell (1912-1986), let alone read any of her work. At best, some might recognize the name of the wife of Ted Russell, the creator of Uncle Mose and the fictitious outport of Pigeon Inlet. But Dora was also a writer, as prolific (maybe even more so) as her husband. She was certainly much more than just the woman behind the man.
Ahead Of Her Time: Selected Writings of Dora Russell offers a cross-section of her work, beginning with her years as Woman’s Editor with the Evening Telegram (1945-48). Before long, she found herself in the midst of discussions emanating from the National Convention and the two referenda that led to Confederation. Two of her regular columns focused on political and social events from a uniquely female perspective, sprinkled with touches of humor and satire. She also wrote profiles of 240 prominent Newfoundland women, a superb contribution to the social history of Newfoundland in the 1940s. For her time Dora was quite remarkable. With four small children at home, she successfully carved out a niche for herself in Newfoundland journalism, setting a fine example for those who would follow.
In the early 1950s, she branched out into other types of writing, notably personal essays, short stories and radio scripts. She did create one more column – “All About Stars” – which drew high praise from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
“At a time when women were supposed to confine their interests (let alone their writing) to the kitchen, Dora Russell refused to let her work stop at the pantry door. From the most basic civic issues to the star-flung heights of exploration she had an opinion, and a voice–and a way with words.”
Joan Sullivan, author of In the Field
“Ahead of Her Time: Select Writings of Dora Russell, edited by her daughter Elizabeth Miller, is a captivating mix of politics, humour and reflections on family life… The juxtaposition of politics and homemaking is irresistible: in one diary entry she celebrates her husband’s win in Newfoundland’s first provincial election, and in the next she is planting flower seeds in her garden. Dora Russell’s voice come across clearly through her writing as someone you would love to know better.”