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Hilary Cunningham Scharper

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Hilary Scharper

Hilary Cunningham Scharper (1961) is a Canadian novelist and professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto. Scharper's fiction, teaching and research focus on cultural approaches to nature. She writes historical fiction, multi-species fiction, and "ecoGothic" fiction.


Scharper was born in 1961, and grew up in Toronto, Ontario.[1][2] She attended Yale, where she received her PhD in Anthropology in 1992.[2][3]


Scharper's book of short stories, Dream Dresses (2009), is about women, girls and their relationships to dresses.[4][5] Hollins Critic writes that Scharper "brings to her fiction writing a trained anthropological eye."[4] The Toronto Star wrote that her writing in Dream Dresses was "reminiscent of Thomas Carlyle."[2]

Perdita (2013) is a mystery novel and gothic novel that hints at the supernatural.[6][7][8][9] The Globe and Mail wrote that Scharper's "prose will haunt you much more than the flashing eyes of an unnaturally old woman" and found that the supernatural elements of the story were unsuccessful.[6] The Winnipeg Free Press wrote that the story was "rich and complex," but also "overwhelming."[10]

Scharper has characterized her writing as ecoGothic and says, "I do not treat nature as merely a backdrop or setting, but rather as an active and indeed central player in the narrative." Jennifer Dawson credits Scharper with originating the term "ecoGothic".[11][12] Critic Robert Douglas has suggested that Scharper's fiction draws upon literary classics such as Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, noting that all these novels feature landscapes that are "desolate", "powerful" and "cruel".[13]

Selected works[edit]


  • Dream Dresses: Stories (2009) ISBN 978-0-9808879-5-2 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.
  • Perdita (2013) ISBN 1-4926-0244-2 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png., ISBN 978-1-4926-0244-6 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.


  1. http://amicus.collectionscanada.gc.ca/aaweb-bin/aamain/rqst_sb?sessionKey=999999999_142&l=0&lvl=1&v=0&r=2&i=NA&hdg=13567129&bc=7&t=%22Scharper,+Hilary,+1961-%22&rt=1&bill=1
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Livingstone, David (30 May 2009). "A Heart Beats Inside That Wardrobe". Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 February 2018 – via EBSCOhost. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  3. http://anthropology.utoronto.ca/people/faculty/hilary-cunningham-scharper/
  4. 4.0 4.1 Cherry, Kelly (2010). "Dream Dresses: Stories". Hollins Critic. 47 (1): 13–14 – via EBSCOhost. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  5. Bartley, Jim (August 14, 2009). "Dream Dresses, by Hilary Scharper". The Globe and Mail.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Silag, Lucy (6 March 2017). "'Perdita' a ghost story whose prose will haunt you more than its plot". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2018-02-04.
  7. "A Plentiful Season for Book Lovers". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 2015. pp. H04. Retrieved 2018-02-04 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. Bartley, Nicole (2014). "Perdita by Hilary Scharper". The Goose. 13 (1). Article 4.
  9. "Perdita". Fiction Book Review. Publishers Weekly.
  10. Girard, Cheryl (20 April 2013). "Trees Hide Forest in Gothic Tale". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 4 February 2018 – via HighBeam Research. (Subscription required (help)). Cite uses deprecated parameter |subscription= (help)
  11. Jennifer Dawson, "Perdita by Hilary Scharper – Blog Tour", (interview), Literal Life (blog), April 12, 2013, cited in Susan J. Tyburski, "Seduced by the Wild: Audrey Schulman's EcoGothic Romance", in: Gothic Transgressions: Extension and Commercialization of a Cultural Mode. Ed. Ellen Redling and Christian Schneider. Zurich: LIT, 2015. ISBN 9783643903648 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png.. p. 133. Dawson credits Scharper with originating the "ecoGothic".
  12. EcoGothic. Ed. William Hughes and Andrew Smith. International Gothic Series, University of Manchester Press, 2013. ISBN 9781526106896 Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png..
  13. Bob Douglas, "The Eco-Gothic: Hilary Scharper's Perdita", Critics at Large, February 19, 2014.

External links[edit]

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