Victoria author Grant Hayter-Menzies is releasing new book called ‘Woo: the monkey who inspired Emily Carr.’ (File submitted/Grant Hayter-Menzies)

Victoria author pens biography on Emily Carr’s monkey, Woo

The artist famously had many animals including the macaque monkey

Victoria’s own Emily Carr garnered international fame for her paintings and poetry, but also grew infamous for her unconventional sidekicks.

Carr is often portrayed as an eccentric artist known for her love of animals, with stories of her walking around downtown Victoria with a pram full of dogs, cats, birds and of course, the Javanese macaque, Woo.

While Carr loved all her animals, Woo held a special place in her heart. This caused Victoria author Grant Hayter-Menzies to dig a little deeper into the monkey’s story in an upcoming biography: Woo, The Monkey Who Inspired Emily Carr.

ALSO READ: Artist’s depiction of Emily Carr goes cross country

“There’s a lot that happened to Emily starting in 1923, when she brought Woo into her home, and into the 1930s when the trajectory of her life as an artist began going up and up, and I feel like Woo played a role in this,” Hayter-Menzies said. “There was this kind of ‘Woo effect.’”

Carr grew up in a moderately wealthy Victorian family, but stuck out in contrast with her sisters who Hayter-Menzies said were “into missionary work and very tight corsets.” Carr instead was an artist who would camp on her own – or with her animals – in the woods to paint.

“Emily herself as a little girl was like the monkey of the Carr family… she loved wildness in every facet,” Hayter-Menzies said. “In a way, Woo was her doppelganger, she was the little Emily figure that could do anything she damn-well pleased.”

ALSO READ: Saanich plans to approve improvements to old Emily Carr library

Hayter-Menzies spent years researching Carr and Woo, digging through old archives and books and interviewing experts like Emily Carr House curator Jan Ross.

“It’s obvious in the ways that Emily wrote about Woo that she freed her,” Hayter-Menzies said.

“In the final portrait of Woo that Emily painted, which she was still working on when she died in March 1945… it’s Woo sitting on a branch without her dress, looking like a wild monkey. It was almost like Emily was finally able to let her go and accept the wildness that was in herself. “

Before its official release, Hayter-Menzies book has been selected by CBC Books for its spring 2019 non-fiction list. The book is set to launch on March 2, the anniversary of Carr’s death in 1945.

There will be an official launch party at Massey Books in Vancouver on March 7, not far from the site of the former Stanley Park Zoo where Woo was later shipped to and died shortly after Carr’s death.

On March 12 there will be a launch party at Bolen Books.

For more information you can visit grantmenzies.wixsite.com

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

RCMP confirm foul play in death of 60-year-old Metchosin man

Police believe crime an isolated incident

Bumper crops of corn, garlic and berries on Peninsula farms

Silver Rill Corn has second earliest harvest ever, mild weather helping other producers

Researchers head out from Sidney to explore Canada’s largest underwater volcano

The Explorer Seamount is as large as Greater Vancouver and full of previously undiscovered species

Prolific offender found sleeping in Oak Bay resident’s car

Of 106 calls to 911 last week, eight were abandoned

RCMP identify Sidney bank robbery suspect, believe he is still on Vancouver Island

Warrant issued for arrest of North Vancouver man for TD Bank robbery

VIDEO: Dashcam video captures moment Victoria cyclist struck

Police seeking cyclist captured in video

UPDATE: Youth seen with gun at Nanaimo mall, suspect now in custody

Woodgrove Centre shut down during police incident

B.C. man dies from rabies after contact with Vancouver Island bat

Last known case of human rabies in B.C. was 16 years ago

Crown recommends up to two-year jail term for former Bountiful leader

Crown says sentence range should be 18 months to two years for Bountiful child removal case

VIDEO: Wolf spotted swimming ashore on northern Vancouver Island

Island wolf population estimated at under 150 in 2008, says VI-Wilds

Diversity a Canadian strength, Trudeau says of Trump tweets at congresswomen

Trudeau avoided using Trump’s name when he was asked about the president’s Twitter comments

Garneau ‘disappointed’ in airlines’ move against new passenger bill of rights

New rules codified compensation for lost luggage, overbooked flights

Canadian is detained in China on drug allegations: Chinese government

Detention of a Canadian in China comes as part a diplomatic dispute triggered by arrest of Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou

Rare white ravens spotted again in mid-Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Most Read