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The Yellow Briar

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Book Details

Title:The Yellow Briar
Mitchell, John Wendell  Writing under the pseudonym: Slater, Patrick   
(2 of 2 for author by title)
The Water-Drinker
Published:   1933
Publisher:Thomas Allen
Tags:Canada, Canadiana, fiction, memoir

Folktale, memoir, fiction, literary hoax, The Yellow Briar is all of these. Ostensibly the charming remembrance of an Irish orphan who escapes the Great Famine of 1840s Ireland and comes to the New World to seek a fresh start on the streets of Toronto and in the pioneer hinterland of Canada West (Ontario), the book was actually a fictional humbug perpetrated by John Mitchell, a Toronto lawyer, who first published the tale in 1933. Patrick Slater, the protagonist of the "memoir," is said to have died in 1924 but not before setting his saga down on paper. And what an account it is! The Globe and Mail felt that the book "gives a picture of Ontario to be found in no other work of fiction we know and has won for itself a permanent place in Canadian literature." If nothing else, Slater/Mitchell captures perfectly the lilt of the Irish and the wry wisdom of an old soul to paint an affecting portrait of trials and tribulations in a long-ago time.~Goodreads [Suggest a different description.]

Pages:144 Info

Author Bio for Mitchell, John Wendell

John Wendell Mitchell was aptly born on April 1, 1882 in Mono Township, Ontario. He moved to Toronto in 1894 and became a lawyer in 1907. His first novel The Yellow Briar was published in 1933, in the Great Depression. It was still very successful --hoax about being an autobiography and all. Less happily in 1935, Mitchell confessed to police that he had embezzled $20,000 of his clients’ money to cover his debts and insisted that he be charged. He received a six month sentence and was disbarred. He died in poverty on October 18, 1951.

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