Fonds MG 262 - William Deverell fonds

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William Deverell fonds

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MG 262

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Physical description

11.52 m of textual records, graphic material, computer files, and audio and video cassettes

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Name of creator

Biographical history

William Deverell was born in Regina, Saskatchewan in 1937. He attended high school in Saskatoon at Nutana Collegiate; and received two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan (LL.B. 1963 and B.A. 1964). While attending the University of Saskatchewan, he was editor-in-chief (1959/60 and part of 1958/59) of the student newspaper, The Sheaf, and also worked the night shift at the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, as a city editor. He was also active politically, serving as leader of the campus NDP. He was in journalism for seven years, having also worked for the Vancouver Sun and Canadian Press (in Montreal). After graduating from the University of Saskatchewan he established a criminal law practice in British Columbia. He ran as a Vancouver candidate for the NDP in the federal election of 1965, was a founding director (and Executive Secretary) of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and subsequently took a leave of absence from his law practice to accept an appointment as Special Assistant to the Leader of the Opposition in Saskatchewan. He ran for office again in 1969. Early in 1978, he took a sabbatical from his active criminal law practice to work full-time on his first novel; this resulted in Needles, which won the Seal Books First Novel Award and was published in 1979. Since then, he has published several best-selling books, primarily crime fiction but including one non-fiction true-crime book. He won the Arthur Ellis and Dashiel Hammett Awards for Trial of Passion (1998). In 1994/95, he was the chair of The Writers Union of Canada. He has also written a number of screenplays, including “Shellgame,” which became the pilot for the CBC Television series Street Legal, and the feature film “Mind Field.”

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds includes material documenting William Deverell’s career primarily as a writer and a lawyer. Among other material, included are research and drafts relating to most of his books and screenplays; other writing; documents re court cases, particularly those used as background for books and screenplays (including the CBC series Scales of Justice); records relating to The Writers Union of Canada; material relating to early activities including newspaper articles written by Deverell and clippings etc. relating to his election campaigns and trials he was involved in; videocassettes of his films Shellgame and Mindfield; correspondence with agents, publishers, producers, fans, etc., and other records relating to the publication and promotion of his books and films; and professional and personal correspondence with Carol Shields, Marian Engel, Margaret Atwood, Susan Musgrave, Stephen Reid and others.

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Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Donated to the University of Saskatchewan Archives by William Deverell in 2003.


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Restrictions on access

Some files including personal and financial information are restricted, as indicated in the finding aid.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

William Deverell retains copyright on all published and unpublished material, subject to the terms of the Copyright Act. The Archives is permitted to make a single copy of a document for any researcher for the purpose of research and private study; reproduction for any other purpose requires the written permission of the donor.

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Further accruals are expected.

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