David French

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David French is a Canadian playwright and author, known best for his 'Mercer plays'. His works are held to a high standard in Canadian theatre, especially Leaving Home (1972) which has been recognized as one of the "1,000 Essential Plays in the English Language" by the Oxford Dictionary of Theatre.

David French

Early Life

David French was born in Newfoundland on January 18, 1939. His father, Garfield French, was a carpenter and worked for the Eastern Air Command during World War II. David's mother, Edith, settled with the family in Toronto after the War.


David studied at Rawlinson Public School, Harbord Collegiate, and Oakwood Collegiate. After reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer he decided he wanted to be a writer.


During the early 1960's, David played roles on stage and in CBC television dramas. He then wrote dramas for television, including The Tender Branch, A Ring for Florie, Beckons the Dark River, Sparrow on a Monday Morning, and The Willow Harp. He also wrote episodes for Razzle Dazzle, a children's program. In 1971, David contacted Bill Glassco, the director of Tarragon Theatre, and asked him to read the play he was working on, Leaving Home. Glassco read the play and produced it in the last slot of Tarragon's first season. This marked the start of a 30 year collaboration. In 1973 David wrote a sequel to ''Leaving Home'' which was then produced at Tarragon Theatre. In the 1980's David wrote ''Salt-Water Moon'' which went on to have hundreds of productions in Canada and won many awards. David mentored many writers, and was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor (2008-2009). He also taught an a yearly summer course in playwriting for the PEI Conservatory, and gave Canada Council-sponsored readings from coast to coast. He cared about future playwrights and visited many high schools and universities that were studying his plays.


David died on December 4th, 2010 of brain cancer at the age of 71.



  • Inducted into the Newfoundland Arts Hall of Honour
  • Queen's Jubilee Medal
  • Lifetime Membership in the Playwrights Guild of canada
  • Was Named an Officer of the Order of Canada (2001)
  • Salt-Water Moon won:
    • Canadian Authors Association Award for Drama
    • Dora Mavor Moore Award for Best New Play
    • Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics' Award
  • Of the Fields, Lately won:
    • Chalmers Award
  • Leaving Home:
    • Was named one of the "1,000 essential Plays in the English Language" by Oxford Dictionary of Theatre (2005)
    • Was named one of Canada's "100 Most Influential Books" by the Literary Review of canada (2005)

Name:David French
Location:Toronto, Ontario


  1. http://davidfrench.net/
  2. http://www.canadiantheatre.com/dict.pl?term=French%2C%20David
  3. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/david-french/