Jessie Georgina (J.G.) Sime

Jessie Georgina (J.G.) Sime, writer, essayist, lecturer, social activist (b at Hamilton, Scotland, 12 Feb 1868; d at Wootton, England, 13 Sep 1958). Though born in Scotland, J.G. Sime spent her childhood in London, England. Her parents, James Sime and Jessie Wilson, were both educators involved in London's literary scene. Primarily educated at home, Sime later attended Queen's College in London. As a young woman Sime worked as a journalist and editor in London and Edinburgh. After spending a year in Berlin studying voice she returned to England, where she continued to write and became involved in the growing women's movement. In 1895 Sime moved to Edinburgh, where she began a relationship with Walter William Chipman, a married Canadian physician studying at the University of Edinburgh. Though he returned home two years later, Sime remained in Scotland until 1907, when she moved to MONTRÉAL. Once in Canada she rekindled her relationship with Chipman and worked as his secretary. Though the majority of her adult life was spent in Canada, it is speculated that Sime may have returned to England after WORLD WAR II to live. Her permanent address at the time of her death, however, was listed as the Mount Royal Hotel in Montréal.

J.G. Sime's work is most noted for the way in which it portrays women in contemporary culture. At the time it was common for such portrayals to be overly sentimental and idealistic. Sime's characters are notable for their dissatisfaction with domestic life, a theme not commonly addressed by the literature of the time. While her characters vary in social class, they are all united by gender inequality. These themes are most pronounced in her fiction works Sister Woman (1919) and Our Little Life (1921), where the focus is on working-class women coping with the hardships of moving from the country to the city. This focus on working women is a hallmark of Sime's writing. The Mistress of All Work (1916) and Canada Chaps (1917) also have working women as their central characters and demonstrate Sime's interest in the changing role of Canadian women during the early twentieth century, particularly as these women operate outside the domestic sphere and fight for equality, respect and WOMEN'S SUFFRAGE.

Sime also reflected upon the state of Canadian writing. In Orpheus in Quebec (1942) she notes that "one feels in the cities...the potentialities of quite another kind of art - disjointed, disconnected art that finds its expression in thumb-nail sketches, short stories, one-act scrappy plays, and the like." Like her contemporaries, Sime saw this movement away from the highly structured form of the previous century as being reflective of the cultural changes taking place in both Canada and the world. Though not a Canadian citizen, Sime's writing is clearly inspired by her adoptive nation, and it was in Canada that she was most lauded. All of her important work was published in Canada, and Sime continues to be viewed as a driving force in early Canadian realist and modernist literary movements.

J.G. Sime served as Québec vice president of the CANADIAN WOMEN'S PRESS CLUB, president of the Montréal branch of the CANADIAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION and secretary of the Montréal PEN Club.