W. O. Mitchell

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William Ormond Mitchell, PC, OC better known as W.O. Mitchell (March 13, 1914 – February 25, 1998) was a Canadian writer.


Early life and career

W. O. Mitchell was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. He studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Manitoba and then completed his BA and a teaching certificate at the University of Alberta in 1943. While at the University of Alberta, Mitchell became a brother of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity (Alpha Tau chapter).

An author of novels, short stories, and plays, Mitchell is best known for his 1947 novel, Who Has Seen The Wind, which has sold close to a million copies in North America, and the radio series and later a collection of short stories 1961, Jake and the Kid, which subsequently won the Stephen Leacock Award. Both of these portray life on the Canadian Prairies where he grew up in the early part of the 20th century. He has often been called the Mark Twain of Canada for his vivid tales of young boys' adventures.

In 1942, while teaching high school, three of Mitchell's short stories were published. In 1947 his first and trademark novel Who Has Seen the Wind was published to critical acclaim and commercial success. In 1948 Mitchell moved to Toronto, Ontario to become the fiction editor for Maclean's magazine. While residing in Toronto, Mitchell created Jake and the Kid, a weekly radio series for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation whose 320 episodes ran from 1950 to 1956.

In addition to producing a large body of work, Mitchell served as professor of creative writing and writer-in-residence at several Canadian universities and was the director of the Banff Centre's writing division.

In 1973, Mitchell was made an officer of the Order of Canada. The list of other honours Mitchell has received includes honorary doctorates from five Canadian universities and being sworn in as a Member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on November 5, 1992. He spent his later years in Calgary, Alberta, dying there in 1998.

In 2000, Mitchell was honoured by the government of Canada with his image on a postage stamp.

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