Taken together, these “ggreat” books make up an extraordinary library: over 600 works that have been selected from 1936 to the present and which are part of the prized collection residing at Rideau Hall. Of the 600-plus books in the collection, many of them have gone on to become feature films, have inspired various works of art and musical scores, and have even travelled into outer space.
A copy of each winning book is included in the temporary exhibition, “75 years of “GGreat” Books: Governor General’s Literary Awards.” Exhibited all together for the first time, these books speak to the excellence of literature in Canada.
In addition to a showcase of award-winning books dating back to 1936, a series of interactive elements will allow visitors to experience the exhibit as though they were in an actual library. The temporary display will also include, in the centre of the Ambassador’s Room, approximately 40 paperback copies of award-winning books, as well as one electronic reader with several digital copies for visitors to browse.
Over the past 75 years, the Governor General’s Literary Awards (often called the “GGs”) have paid tribute to great Canadian books, including many that are now considered classics. These awards are a source of inspiration to the authors and readers of today and tomorrow.
A Celebration of Excellence
Administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, these awards are among the most prestigious the country bestows on its writers, playwrights, poets, translators and illustrators. The governor general presides over an annual ceremony during which 14 laureates join the pantheon of Canadian literature.
The “GGs” Through the Years
In 1936, the Canadian Authors Association established the Governor General’s Literary Awards, with the support of Lord Tweedsmuir (Governor General 1935-1940.) At that time, Canada’s book industry was in its infancy and its market was dominated by foreign publishers. These new awards changed all of that by stimulating the commercial success of Canadian works, launching the careers of young artists and celebrating many of Canada’s greatest authors. In this sense, the “GGs” have helped to shape a distinct national literary identity.
The number of categories and the monetary value of the awards have increased over the years. In 1959, categories for works written in French were created. The following year, the administration, funding and promotion of the Literary Awards was transferred to the Canada Council for the Arts.
Today, the “GGs” are awarded to the best English-language and French-language books in each of the following seven categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature (text), children’s literature (illustration) and translation. The value of each award is $25,000. Each laureate also receives a specially bound copy of their winning book. The publisher of each winning book receives $3,000 to support promotional activities. Finalists each receive $1,000 in recognition of their nomination to the short list.
Members of the general public can view the temporary exhibition from November 25, 2011, to November 2012, as part of the guided tours of Rideau Hall. Please call 1-866-842-4422 to make your reservation.