Kevin Major - Author, Historian

Kevin Major

Author, Historian

Kevin was conceived a Newfoundlander, but born a Canadian in the year that Newfoundland joined Confederation; he’s been trying to deal with that paradox ever since.

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Kevin is an author from Newfoundland. After graduating from Memorial University in 1972, he worked as a teacher before turning to writing full-time in 1989. While he also writes for an adult readership, he is also known as an author of children’s literature, work for which he has been widely awarded and praised. He received the Vicky Metcalf Award for an outstanding body of work in 1992.

Although each of Major's books employs a different narrative method, they are similar in exploring problems of adolescence and family life. His early novels are notable for their use of Newfoundland local colour. In Hold Fast (1978, winner of the Governor General’s Award, the Canadian Library Association Award, and adapted for film), Far from Shore (1980, winner of the Canadian Young Adult Book Award) and Thirty-six Exposures (1984), Major traces the destructive changes to traditional outport family life and values brought on by unemployment and modern materialism. Dear Bruce Springsteen (1987) presents a boy's efforts to cope with his parents' separation. Blood Red Ochre (1989) combines the adolescent problem novel, historical fiction and time-shift fantasy to examine the extinction of Newfoundland's Beothuk people.

Major produced a comic fantasy in Eating Between the Lines (1991, winner of the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year Award). In it, a teenager literally enters the world of classic books to prevent the dissolution of his parents' marriage and to solve his own romantic problems. Comic irony is uppermost in Diana: My Autobiography (1993), about an egocentric 11-year-old obsessed with the Royal Family. The House of Wooden Santas (1997) and Aunt Olga's Christmas Postcards (2005) are illustrated children's books for the Christmas season. Ann and Seamus (2003), critically praised and made into folk opera, is a novel in verse based on the true story of young Ann Harvey, who in 1828 helped to rescue Irish immigrants whose ship grounded on the coast of southern Newfoundland.

Major's writing for adults ranges across genres. No Man's Land (1995), his first work for adults, tells of a bloody WWI battle fought by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment; it has been adapted for the stage and performed frequently. He has also written another wartime play, Lead Me Home (2009), set during the sinking of the Cabot Strait ferry S.S. Caribou by a German submarine during WWII. Major's history of Newfoundland, As Near To Heaven By Sea (2002), was a Canadian bestseller and was nominated for the Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize. Gros Morne Time Lines (2000), a narrative and visual exploration of Gros Morne National Park, is a collaboration between Major and visual artists Anne Meredith Barry and Tara Ryan. Gaffer (1997), a fantasy novel, traces the exploits of the titular character as he surfaces from the ocean during key moments in Newfoundland's history. New Under the Sun (2010), a third novel, addresses the experiences of migration and cultural change in the lives of Newfoundlanders past and present.

Kevin Major lives and writes in St. John's, NL.