Raymond Knister

Fonds number:
Title: Raymond Knister
Dates of Material:
1921-1949, predominant 1924-1931
50 cm of textual records
3 photographs: b&w
6 (pencil) drawings
3 reels of 35 mm microfilm
Biographical sketch

John Raymond Knister (1899–1932) was an editor, a writer and a poet. He was born in Essex County, Ontario, the son of Robert Knister. He married Myrtle Gamble in 1927. They had two children. He drowned on Lake Saint Clair near Stoney Point.

Knister attended Victoria College, University of Toronto (1919–20) and took courses at Iowa State University, Iowa City (1923–24). He became associate editor of The Midland in 1923. He contributed many short stories and poems to The Midland, This Quarter (Paris) and Transition, along with other American and Canadian avant-garde magazines.

Knister was the editor of Canadian Short Stories (1928) and the author of White Narcissus: A Novel (1929), and My Star Predominant (1934). His posthumous works include Collected Poems of Raymond Knister (edited by Dorothy Livesay, 1949), Selected Stories of Raymond Knister (edited by Michael Gnarowski, 1972), The First Day of Spring: Stories and Other Prose (compiled by Peter Stevens, 1976), Windfalls for Cider...: The Poems of Raymond Knister (edited by Joy Kuropatwa, 1989), There Was a Mr. Cristi (2006), and Hackman’s Night and Taxi Driver (2007).  

Custodial history

The custodial history is unknown.

Scope and content

The fonds consists of Raymond Knister’s records pertaining to his activities as an editor, writer and poet, and to his personal life. The fonds is arranged in the following series: 

Source of supplied title

Title based on contents of the fonds.


The fonds is stored in 6 boxes.

Immediate source of acquisition

Acquired in three parts. First part acquired from Dr. Lorne Pierce, who obtained it from Myrtle Gamble Knister Grace (Mrs. Christy Grace), in 1949. Second part acquired from Imogen Knister Givens (Raymond and Myrtle’s daughter) in 1980. Third part consists of four letters and three clippings purchased from John Rush Books, Hamilton, in 1996.

Language of material


Access restrictions

Restrictions on access: No restrictions on access.

Terms governing use and reproduction

Part of the fonds is available on microfilm which researchers are requested to use unless an enquiry can be satisfied only by consulting original documents. For further information contact the Chief Librarian.

Finding aids

File list available.

An inventory in hard copy format is also available for this fonds. Please contact reference desk staff for more information.

Related material

William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections (McMaster University Library, Hamilton, Ontario) holds Raymond Knister fonds (reference code: RC0121). 

University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections (Winnipeg, Manitoba) houses Raymond Knister fonds (reference number: Mss Sc 70 (A.81-10)).

W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections (Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario) also has a certain amount of archival material related to the poet in the Edith and Lorne Pierce Collection of Canadiana.


No further accruals are expected.

Access points

Provenance access point: Knister, Raymond, 1899–1932
Names as subject access points: Gamble, Myrtle

Related special collections at Victoria University Library

Canadiana includes the first editions of Knister’s books. 

Related resources

Betts, Gregory, ed. After Exile: A Raymond Knister Reader. Exile Editions, 2011.

Breitbach, Julia. “The Beginnings of Canadian Modernism: Raymond Knister, ‘The First Day of Spring’.” The Canadian Short Story: Interpretations, edited by Reingard M. Nischik, Camden House, 2007, pp. 67–82.

Burke, Anne. “Raymond Knister: An Annotated Checklist.” Essays on Canadian Writing, vol. 16, 1979, pp. 20–61.

Carter, Kathryn. “Death and the Diary, or Tragedies in the Archive.” Journal of Canadian Studies, vol. 40, no. 2, 2006, pp. 42–58.

Givens, Imogen. “Raymond Knister—Man or Myth?” Essays on Canadian Writing, no. 16, 1980, pp. 5–20. 

Hill, Colin. Modern Realism in English-Canadian Fiction. University of Toronto Press, 2012.

Kennedy, Leo. “Raymond Knister.” Canadian Forum, vol. 12, 1931, pp. 459–461. 

Kuropatwa, Joy. Raymond Knister and His Works. ECW Press, 1987.

Maylor, Micheline. Full Depth: the Raymond Knister Poems. Wolsak and Wynn, 2007.

Maylor, Micheline, and Curtis Fahey. “Knister, John Raymond.” Dictionary of Canadian Biography, University of Toronto and Université Laval, biographi.ca/en/bio/knister_john_raymond_16E.html. Accessed 19 January 2022.

O’Halloran, Bonita. “Chronological History of Raymond Knister.” Journal of Canadian Fiction, vol. 4, no. 2, 1975, pp. 194–99.

Stevens, Peter. “The Old Futility of Art: Knister’s Poetry.” Canadian Literature, vol. 23, 1965, pp. 45–52.

Waddington, Marcus. "The Canadian Identity and Canada's Heart of Darkness: Two Stories by Thomas Murtha." ca. 2020. Unpublished personal essay.

Waddington, Marcus. “Raymond Knister: A Biographical Note.” Journal of Canadian Fiction, vol. 4, no. 2, 1975, pp. 175–192.