Claire Pratt, artist, poet and editor was born in Toronto in 1921. She was the daughter of Viola Whitney (a writer and editor of the magazine World Friends) and E.J. Pratt (noted poet and educator). At the age of four Claire contracted polio and subsequently developed osteomyelitis, an inflammatory disease of the bone, which affected her for most of her life.
She graduated in English and Philosophy from Victoria College, University of Toronto and was awarded a gold medal. After studying international relations at Columbia University, and art at the Boston Museum of Fine Art and elsewhere, she worked as an editor for Macmillan Canada, the University of Toronto Press, and Harvard University Press. From 1956-1965 Claire was senior editor at McClelland & Stewart.
In 1965, ill health forced her to retire but she continued to do free-lance work with Oxford University Press, McClelland and Stewart, Press Porcepic, and Consolidated Amethyst. She studied art periodically in Toronto at the Doon School of Art, and in Massachusetts at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.
Her interest in genealogy was responsible for her travels to England, Newfoundland, and New Zealand and in 1971 she published Silent Ancestors, a genealogical essay subtitled "The Forebears of E.J. Pratt," a tribute to the descendants of the Pratt family who immigrated to Newfoundland from Yorkshire.
As an artist Claire preferred working with woodcuts. Claire Pratt's graphic art was exhibited in shows across Canada, in the United States and in Europe.
Her interest in Japanese graphics led her to the Japanese poetic form, "Haiku" and her work was published in various poetry magazines and books. Claire often illustrated her haiku. A number of these works, including Haiku (1965), Music of Oberon (1975) and Black Heather (1980) may be seen in the display cabinets.
Claire's work was also stimulated by her father's poetry. Many of her Christmas cards featured excerpts from his poems, while other works explored the themes and imagery of E.J. Pratt's work. (See Water Witches, 1963, Sea Cat, 1963 and "The Witches Brew" E.J. Pratt, 1925, or Gulls and the Sea, 1954 and "Sea-Gulls" E. J. Pratt, 1930.)
Claire Pratt died in 1995. The works in this exhibition feature woodcuts, lithographs, wood engravings, linocuts, cards, and publications from the Library's Claire Pratt special collection and from private collections. This show coincides with the publication of DA.46 (Summer 2000) which features an article on the life and artistic accomplishments of Claire Pratt, as well as a comprehensive listing of her graphic works. The copyright for all E.J. Pratt Poems, and all Claire Pratt images and haiku rests with the Victoria University Library.
The E.J. Pratt Library would like to thank and acknowledge those individuals who have lent works and other items for this exhibit.
Claire Pratt Special Collection
A Selection of Graphic Works by Claire Pratt from the E.J. Pratt Library Collection