Margaret Hollingsworth

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Margaret Hollingsworth, Playwright

Margaret Hollingsworth (born 1942) is a Canadian writer. Best known as a playwright, she has also published essays, articles, reviews, short stories, poetry, a novel, and written for film and television.[1]

Life and Career

Born in Sheffield, England, Hollingsworth grew up in Sheffield and London, where she recalls "queuing for the cheap seats" to see plays such as Waiting for Godot and A Taste of Honey.[2] She began writing plays at a young age, winning a competition for young playwrights as a teenager.[3] She studied drama, learning from Bob Cobbing, a performance artist and concrete poet, and Keith Johnstone, who worked in improvisation. During this time she also spent a year teaching English in Verona, Italy.[4]

Hollingsworth was educated as a librarian at Loughborough College, a profession she decided on because she feared the British theatre hierarchy would prove difficult to enter into.[5] Hollingsworth worked in London lending and reference libraries, including the Bishopsgate Institute in the City, before moving to Oxford where she toured North Oxfordshire villages with a mobile library.[6] In 1966, Hollingsworth left England on a bus to Kathmandu, which broke down in Iraq. Continuing her journey alone, Hollingsworth continued to travel through the Middle East and the Far East, eventually ending her journey in Japan. In Japan, Hollingsworth secured jobs teaching english and working in a bar.[7] Returning to England via the Trans-Siberian Railway, Hollingsworth attempted to publish a book that offered advice for other women who were travelling alone. However, the book was rejected by publishers, who felt it would be difficult to find a readership.[8]

Immigrating to Canada from England in 1968, Hollingsworth settled in Thunder Bay, Ontario.[9] Here she became chief librarian at the Fort William Public Library. Hollingsworth holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lakehead University, where she majored in psychology. She completed graduate studies at the University of British Columbia, where she gained an MFA in Theatre and Creative Writing in 1974.[10] After graduating, Hollingsworth started her professional career at the New Play Centre in Vancouver, where several of her one-act plays were produced. Hollingsworth went on to make a career in the dramatic arts, writing and teaching for radio, TV, film, and the stage. Her stage and CBC radio plays have been produced across Canada and on all five continents.[11] Hollingsworth's plays often deal with outsiders, particularly women, exploring the notion of home and searching for a means of claiming their own spaces.[12]

Hollingsworth considers herself a feminist writer[13], and spearheaded the second International Women Playwrights Conference in Toronto in 1992. Her 1979 play Alli Alli Oh was staged by Red Light Theatre, an early Toronto feminist theatre company, and is considered one of the first lesbian plays to be staged in Canada. Also in Toronto, Hollingsworth worked extensively with another feminist theatre, Nightwood, in its early days.[14] A member of PEN, Hollingsworth is deeply involved in the politics of writing. She has served on the executive of the Playwright's Union and on the Public Lending Rights Commission.[15]

In 1981, she published a collection of short stories, entitled Smiling Under Water, and published her first novel, Be Quiet, in 2003.[16] Hollingsworth has also published many short stories in Canadian literary magazines such as Room. She has been Writer-in-Residence at the Stratford Festival and at major universities across the country. From 1992–2002 she was an Associate Professor at the University of Victoria, and is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria.[17] Hollingsworth currently resides in Toronto.



  • Alli Alli Oh (1979, published in Willful Acts) — companion piece to Islands[18]
  • Apple in the Eye (1986, published in Willful Acts)
  • Bushed (1981, published in Operators/Bushed) — companion piece to Operators
  • Diving (1986, published in Willful Acts)
  • Ever Loving (1984, published in Willful Acts)
  • Islands (1986, published in Willful Acts) — companion piece to Alli Alli Oh
  • Mother Country (1981)
  • Operators (1981, published in Operators/Bushed) — companion piece to Bushed
  • War Babies (1986, published in Willful Acts)
  • The House That Jack Built (published in Endangered Species) — companion piece to It's only hot for two months in Kapuskasing
  • It's only hot for two months in Kapuskasing (1986, published in Endangered Species) — companion piece to The House That Jack Built
  • Poppycock (1987, published in Endangered Species)
  • Prim and Duck, Mama and Frank (1986, published in Endangered Species)
  • "In Confidence" (1994)
  • "Numbbrains" (1995)
  • "Blowing Up Toads" (1998)

Short Stories

  • "Smiling Under Water: A Collection of Short Stories" (1989) — includes Tulips, Margherita, Smiling Under Water, Pushing Forty, English-Speaking Aliens, Captured in Flight, The Day I Killed the Pope, Cubbing, Progress on a late summer Afternoon, Lovelinks, Widecombe Fair and Generations, many of which were first published in literary magazines and anthologies.
  • "A Marriage in China" (1993, published in "Frictions 2")
  • "Eva in Arles" (1993)
  • "The Faithful Orchid" (1996)
  • "The Second Change" (1998)
  • "Beyond Closure" (1999)


  • "Be Quiet" (2004, published by Blue Lake Books) Be Quiet is "an imagined and self-referential portrait" of Canadian painter Emily Carr.
  • "Kissing Gourami" (in progress)

Radio Plays

  • "Join me in Mandalay"
  • "Prairie Drive"
  • "Wayley's Children"
  • "As I was saying to Mr, Dideron"
  • "Webster's Revenge"
  • "Operators"
  • "The Apple in the Eyes"
  • "War Games"
  • "Alli Alli Oh"
  • "Responsible Party"
  • "Women on the Wire"
  • "Sureal Landscape"
  • "The Cloud Sculptors of Coral D"
  • "The Woman who talked to Horses"
  • "Smiling Under Water"
  • "A Mother in India"
  • "The Prince and Rita McNeil" (ACTRA Top Ten Award)
  • "The Age of Lead"

Television Plays

  • "Scene from a Balcony" (CBC TV, Airwaves, 1987)
  • "The Last Demise of Julian Whittaker" (CBC TV, Inside Stories, 1989)
  • "Saying It" (CBC TV, April 1995)

Feature Film Scripts

  • "Breaking through Silence"
  • "Smiling Under Water"
  • "Memory Board"
  • "Me and my True Love"
  • "Emily"


  • Floyd S. Chalmer's Canadian Play Award (Drama) "Ever Loving"[19]
  • Dora Mavor Moore Award (Drama) Ever Loving
  • Jessie Award (Drama) Ring of Fire
  • Actra Award (Radio Drama)
  • Judges choice: Last Frontier Edward Albee Theatre Conference, Valdez, Alaska, (O Positive)
  • Governor General's Gold Medal: Highest graduating student in Faculty of Arts, Lakehead University.



Name:Margaret Hollingsworth
Location:Thunder Bay, ON