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A.M. Klein
Photo credit: National Archives of Canada (C58352)

A.M. Klein was born in 1909 to Kalman and Yetta Klein, orthodox Jews, in Ratno, a small town in the Ukraine, and brought to Montreal with his family probably the following year (officially claimed to have been born in Montreal, 14 February 1909).

1915 — attended Mt Royal School. Received Jewish education from private tutors and at Talmud Torah.

1922 — attended Baron Byng High School.

1926 — attended McGill University, majoring in classics and political science and economics. Active in Debating Society with close friend David Lewis. Founded literary magazine, the McGilliad, with Lewis in 1930. Associated with 'Montreal Group' of poets and writers, including A.J.M. Smith, F.R. Scott, Leo Kennedy, and Leon Edel. Began publishing poems in the Menorah Journal, the Canadian Forum, Poetry (Chicago), and elsewhere.

1928 — served as educational director of Canadian Young Judaea, a Zionist youth organization, and edited its monthly magazine, the Judaean, in which many of his early poems and stories appeared.

1930 — studied law at the Université de Montréal.

1934 — established law firm in partnership with Max Garmaise, and struggled to earn a living during the Depression. Served as national president of Canadian Young Judaea.

1935 — married Bessie Kozlov, his high school sweetheart.

1936 — active in publicity and educational work, and on speaking tours, for the Zionist Organization of Canada, and editor of its monthly, the Canadian Zionist.

1937 — moved to Rouyn, a small mining town in northern Quebec, to join Garmaise in law practice there.

1938 — returned to Montreal, and re-established law practice in association with Samuel Chait. Assumed editorship of the Canadian Jewish Chronicle, to which he contributed numerous editorials, essays, book reviews, poems, and stories.

1939 — began his long association with Samuel Bronfman, noted distiller and philanthropist and president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, working as a speech-writer and public relations consultant.

1940 — first volume of poems, Hath Not a Jew ..., published by Behrman's in New York.

1942 — associated with the Preview group of poets—F.R. Scott, Patrick Anderson, P.K. Page, and others—and with the First Statement group, in particular Irving Layton.

1944 — The Hitleriad published by New Directions in New York. Poems published by the Jewish Publication Society in Philadelphia. Nominated as CCF candidate in federal riding of Montreal-Cartier, but withdrew before the election of 1945.

1945 — visiting lecturer in poetry at McGill University.

1946 — wrote his first novel, an unpublished spy thriller, 'Comes the Revolution' (later retitled 'That Walks Like a Man'), based on the Igor Gouzenko affair.

1948 — The Rocking Chair and Other Poems published by Ryerson in Toronto.

1949 — published the first of several articles on James Joyce's Ulysses. Ran unsuccesszfully as CCF candidate in the federal election of June 1949. Awarded the Governor-General's Medal for The Rocking Chair. Journeyed to Israel, Europe, and North Africa in July and August, sponsored by the Canadian Jewish Congress, and published his 'Notebook of a Journey' in the Canadian Jewish Chronicle.

1949 — travelled widely in Canada and the United States, addressing Jewish audiences, principally concerning the State of Israel.

1951 — The Second Scroll published by Knopf in New York.

1952 — increasing signs of mental illness. Hospitalized for several weeks in the summer of 1954 after a thwarted suicide attempt.

1955 — resigned from editorship of the Canadian Jewish Chronicle. Ceased writing and began to withdraw from public life.

1956 — resigned from law practice and became increasingly reclusive. Awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal by the Royal Society of Canada.

1971 — death of Bessie Klein, 26 February.

1972 — died in his sleep, 20 August.

Source: Professor Zaillig Pollock, Trent University

A.M. Klein's works copyright © to the A.M. Klein Estate.

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