Linda Leith holds a B.A., First Class Honours in Philosophy from McGill University (1970) and a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of London (1976); her thesis is on Samuel Beckett’s early English fiction.
She has published critical work in both Canadian and international literary and scholarly publications (including Studies in Canadian Literature, Québec Studies, Lettres québécoises, Science-Fiction Studies, The Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, and New Hungarian Quarterly) and has taught at McGill University, at Concordia University, and at John Abbott College.
Leith was in 1987 invited to edit a special issue of Canadian Fiction Magazine focused on Anglo Quebec, and this was reprinted as Telling Differences: New English Fiction from Quebec (Véhicule Press, 1988).
She was fiction editor for Véhicule Press 1988-1995, selecting and editing award-winning novels and short story collections for publication. As publisher and editor of Matrix (1988-1995), she worked with her associates to transform the publication into an award-winning literary magazine with the biggest circulation in Canada.
Her first book, the literary essay Introducing Hugh MacLennan’s Two Solitudes, was commissioned by ECW Press and published in 1990; it was subsequently translated into French by Hélène Rioux as Deux solitudes (XYZ Éditeur, 2008).
Leith’s own translation of Quebec author Louis Gauthier’s Voyage en Irlande avec un parapluie — entitled Travels with an Umbrella: An Irish Journey (Signature, 2000) — was nominated for both the QWF Translation Prize and the Glassco Prize for Literary Translation.
Linda Leith founded Blue Metropolis Foundation in 1997. As President and Artistic Director for a period of fourteen years, until December 2010, she designed and produced a wide range of innovative activities for adults and children.
The annual Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival, which was launched in April, 1999, was the world’s first multilingual literary festival, featuring hundreds of international literary figures — from Norman Mailer, Marie-Claire Blais, Paul Auster, Mavis Gallant and Maryse Condé to Derek Walcott, Nelly Arcan, Adonis, Margaret Drabble, Alaa al Aswany, A.S. Byatt, A.B. Yehoshua, Amitav Ghosh, and Carlos Fuentes — along with thousands of writers from Quebec and Canada. Blue Metropolis introduced pioneering distance-education programs in 2001 and introduced a lively festival for children and young adults in 2007.
With writers invited to present their work to Montreal audiences in English, French, and many other languages, Blue Metropolis was soon considered an international model of diversity and inclusion.
Three months after passing on the torch at Blue Metropolis in December 2010, Linda Leith created the online magazine Salon .ll. and then incorporated Linda Leith Éditions l Linda Leith Publishing in June, 2011.
LLP launched its first books at the 14th Blue Metropolis festival in April 2012, and LLÉ published its first titles in French in 2016. The house has supported the careers of dozens of writers from Quebec and across Canada, including award-winning fiction by Ariela Freedman, Jennifer Quist, and Xue Yiwei, crime fiction by Peter Kirby, Caterina Edwards, and Denis Coupal, and essays by Rick Salutin, Abou Farman, Pascale Navarro, Issa J. Boullata, and Raquel Fletcher.
in 2017, LLP reissued Mavis Gallant’s play What Is To Be Done?, with an introductory essay by Linda Leith entitled “Montreal in Wartime.” The house launched ruelle, its children’s books imprint, in 2019. The online magazine, Salon .ll., continues to publish reviews, opinion pieces, and features in English and French by Canadian authors on everything books are about.
As Vice-chair of The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), Leith worked with fellow writers Ann Charney and Mary Soderstrom on a literary event, Write pour écrire, which was staged in front of a packed house in October 1996. This was the first-ever collaboration between TWUC and the Union des écrivaines et écrivains québécois on a literary event.
Leith was the founding Vice-President of Quebec Writers’ Federation (1998-2003) and sat on the Commission consultative en littérature for the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, 2008-2010. A Past-President of the Association of English-language Publishers of Quebec, she has sat on juries for numerous awards.
Winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation Community Award in 2003, Leith was the recipient of Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages’ first Award of Excellence, Linguistic Duality, in 2009, and the President of the Quebec Community Groups Network in 2010-2011. She is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her “contribution to Canada” and was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2020.
“We were thumbing our noses at literary authority, united in opposition to everyone who had ignored us. So it was fun, too, and companionable. We were creating our own literary community.”
— Linda Leith, Writing in the Time of Nationalism