July 16th, 2024

Western University to consider ties to Alice Munro following daughter’s revelations


By The Canadian Press on July 9, 2024.

Alice Munro's alma mater says it's considering how to move forward after the Nobel laureate's daughter revealed that she was sexually abused by her stepfather but Munro still chose to stay with him. Munro is photographed at her daughter Sheila's home during an interview in Victoria on Tuesday Dec. 10, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Alice Munro’s alma mater says it’s considering how to move forward after the Nobel laureate’s daughter revealed she was sexually abused by her stepfather and Munro chose to stay with him.

Western University has long touted its ties to the short story writer and since 2018 has employed an Alice Munro Chair in Creativity to “lead the creative culture” of the arts and humanities faculty.

Acting dean Ileana Paul says in a statement the faculty is now considering how the revelations from Andrea Robin Skinner, Munro’s youngest daughter, will affect the way the London, Ont., school celebrates the author’s legacy.

In a first-person piece published Sunday in the Toronto Star, Skinner wrote that she was sexually abused by Munro’s second husband Gerald Fremlin, starting when she was nine years old.

When Munro learned of the abuse years later, Skinner wrote, she focused more on herself than her daughter and ultimately chose to stay with Fremlin.

Fremlin was convicted of indecent assault in 2005, at age 80, and even still, Munro stayed.

Skinner wrote in the piece that she wanted her experience to be a part of the story people told about Munro when they reflect on her legacy, rather than the hero worship that had become common.

The revelation has left many fans, writers and academics grappling with their feelings about Munro, with some saying it would fundamentally shift how – and whether – they read her work.

Munro died in May at age 92.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 9, 2024.

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