Livesay, (Kathleen May) Dorothy (1909–1996) By Barclay, Adèle
Dorothy Livesay was a Canadian poet, journalist, activist, social worker, instructor, field worker, and author of short fiction, literary criticism, radio plays, and autobiography. Her collection of poetry Day and Night (1944) was lauded as a significant socialist, modernist text.
Livesay was born on 12 October 1909 in Winnipeg, Manitoba to journalist parents. She received a BA Honours in modern languages (1931) from the University of Toronto. Influenced by IMAGISM, she published her first collection of poetry Green Pitcher (1928), a well-received book of lyric poetry, while still an undergraduate student. Livesay studied at the Sorbonne, earning a Diplôme d’Études Supérieures (1932). Her thesis was entitled “Symbolism and the Metaphysical Tradition in Modern English Poetry.” In Paris, she was exposed to Marxism and the effects of the Depression in Europe, and developed her left-wing politics in response. Upon returning to Canada in 1932, she published a second book of poetry, Signpost, enrolled in the School of Social Work at the University of Toronto, and joined the Young Communist League.