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Ethel Wilson was born in South Africa. In 1890, after her mother died, she was taken to England; then in 1898, when her father died, she moved to live with her grandmother in Vancouver. Wilson received her teacher's certificate in 1907 and then taught in Vancouver public schools until 1920. In 1921 she married Dr. Wallace Wilson. She began writing in 1937, but she did not produce much work until 1947, when her first novel Hetty Dorval was published. Her most productive period was from 1947 to 1957 when she wrote her four other novels. Mrs. Golightly and Other Stories, Wilson's last published work, appeared in 1961 at the same time that she received a special medal from the Canada Council.