Canadian writer and Nobel prize winner Alice Munro dies at 92

Alice Munro
[ Paul Stephen Pearson/Fairfax Media/Getty Images]

Canadian author Alice Munro, a 2013 Nobel Prize winner for literature, has died at the age of 92.

Munro wrote short stories for more than 60 years, often focusing on life in rural Canada.

She died at her home in Port Hope, Ontario on Monday night, her family and her publisher have confirmed.

Munro was often compared to Russian writer Anton Chekhov for the insight and compassion found in her stories.

"Alice Munro is a national treasure - a writer of enormous depth, empathy, and humanity whose work is read, admired, and cherished by readers throughout Canada and around the world," Kristin Cochrane, the CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, said in a statement.

Her first major break-through came in 1968, when her short story collection, Dance of The Happy Shades, about life in the suburbs of western Ontario, won Canada's highest literary honour, the Governor General's Award. It was the first of three Governor General's Awards she would win in her lifetime.

Munro has published thirteen collections of stories as well as one novel, Lives of Girls and Women, and two volumes of Selected Stories.

In 1977, the New Yorker magazine published one of Munro's stories, Royal Beatings, based on punishments she received from her father when she was young. She went on to have a long relationship with the publication.

Munro, the daughter of a fox farmer and a schoolteacher, was born in 1931 in Wingham, Ontario. Many of her stories are set in the area and chronicle the region's people, culture and the way of life.

In her youth, she was named class valedictorian at her high school and received a scholarship to the University of Western Ontario in London. Munro had the the highest standing in English of any student who applied to the university.

While pursuing higher education, Munro said she spent about half her time on academics and the other half writing.

She has published more than a dozen collections of short stories. In the 1950s and 1960s, her stories were broadcast on the CBC and published in several Canadian periodicals.

Some of her stories compared life before and after the social revolution of the 1960s.

"Having been born in 1931, I was a little old, but not too old, and women like me after a couple of years were wearing miniskirts and prancing around," she said.

One well-known story, The Bear Came Over the Mountain, was made into the 2006 film Away from Her, starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent.

In 2009, Munro won the Man Booker Prize International Prize for lifetime achievement.

The judges said in a statement at the time: "To read Alice Munro is to learn something every time that you never thought of before."

They added that Munro "brings as much depth, wisdom and precision to every story as most novelists bring to a lifetime of novels".

She later won the Nobel Prize in 2013. Previous winners include literary giants such as Rudyard Kipling, Toni Morrison and Ernest Hemingway.

The Nobel committee called Munro a "master of contemporary short story".

Munro said in an interview with the Guardian in 2013 that she had been "writing personal stories all my life".

"Maybe I write stories that people get very involved in, maybe it is the complexity and the lives presented in them," she told the Guardian in 2013. "I hope they are a good read. I hope they move people."

Her last collection of stories, Dear Life, was published in 2012. It included a collection of partly-autobiographical stories.

She told the National Post newspaper that Dear Life was special because she'd likely not write anymore.

"Not that I didn't love writing, but I think you do get to a stage where you sort of think about your life in a different way," she said.