Florence Randal Livesay (1874-1953), in Canadian Singers and their Songs, 1919. Courtesy Internet Archive.

by George J. Dance

Florence Livesay
Livesay in Canadian Poets, 1916
Born Florence Randal
November 3, 1874
Compton, Quebec
Died 1953 (aged 78)
Grimsby, Ontario
Nationality Canada Canadian
Citizenship British subject
Spouse(s) John Frederick Bligh Livesay
Children 2 daughters (Dorothy, Sophie)

Florence Hamilton Randal Lindsay (November 3, 1874 - 1953) was a Canadian poet, journalist, and translator. She is best known as the mother of modernist poet Dorothy Livesay.


Livesay was born Florence Hamilton Randal in Compton, Quebec, the 2nd of 6 children of Maria Louisa (Andrews) and Stephen Randal. She was educated at Compton Ladies' College, where she wrote her first poem.[1]

She taught for a year at the Sequin School in New York City, and then at Buckingham Public School in Montreal. In the 1890's she began publishing poems, stories, and articles in the Canadian Magazine and Massey's Magazine. In 1897 she became the society editor of the Ottawa Journal.[1]

In 1902 she spent a year in South Africa as a teacher. On her return to Canada she moved to Winnipeg, where she first worked for the Telegram and then transferred to the Winnipeg Free Press. At the Press she met fellow reporter J.F.B. Livesay, whom she married on September 3, 1903. The couple had 2 daughters, Dorothy (born October 1909) and Sophie (born August 1912).[1]

When her daughters were still small, Livesay began collecting and translating folk songs from Winnipeg's Ukrainian community, some of which were published in Poetry and the University Magazine, and which were collected in her first book Songs of Ukraina (1916).[1]

J.F.B. Livesay was one of the founders of Canadian Press in 1917. In 1920 he was appointed its manager, and the Livesays moved to Toronto, where Florence Livesay befriended novelist Mazo de la Roche. In 1923 Livesay published a collection of her own poetry under the title, Shepherd's Purse.[1]

Livesay undertook a lecture tour of England in 1931. In 1940 she published her translation of Grigori Kritkva's novel Marusia. After her husband died, she edited his autobiography, The Making of a Canadian (1947). In 1953, shortly after moving to Grimsby, Ontario, she died from injuries sustained in a bus accident.[1]


Manitoba Free Press on Songs of Ukraina: "We ought to be proud that the foreign folk among us have found a sympathetic voice singing in our language the songs of their fatherland. Mrs. Livesay composes as easily as William Morris. She has the lyric gift, and she has the feeling for these people that gives her verse vitality.... Her verses have the singing quality and the true feeling.... In her translations Mrs. Livesay has certainly entered into the spirit of the original, reproducing the passion, the patriotism, and the very song itself.... 'The Young Recruits' is a genuine dramatic lyric. Read it twice and you will read it three times.... She has surely captured throughout the number and variety of her translations, – love-songs, war cries, heart-break, dance – the peculiar wit and wisdom of the Ukrainian nation, the twist of the national temperament."[2]

Dictionary of Literary Biography on Shepherd's Purse: "These terse modernist verses capture moments of insight about love and time, with minimal description and scant attention to nature. Her occasional choice of archaic language and frequent use of tight formal structures suggest that she shared Scott's admiration for John Donne; her notes and epigraphs comprise an eclectic body of intertextual referents, ranging from the Bible and folk proverbs to Richard Hakluyt, Robert Browning, and Rupert Brooke."[1]




  • Songs of Ukraina, with Ruthenian poems. London: Dent, 1916; New York: Dutton, 1916.
  • Grigori Kritkva, Marusia (prepared by Florence Randal Livesay & Paul Crath; with contributions by Theodore Humeniuk). New York: Dutton , 1940.
  • Down Singing Centuries: Folk literature of the Ukraine (edited by Louisa Loeb}. Winnipeg, MB: Hyperion Press, 1981.


  • Ukraine on the road to freedom: Selection of articles, reprints and communications concerning the Ukrainian people in Europe. New York: Ukrainian National Committee of the U.S., 1919.
  • John Frederick Bligh Livesay, The Making of a Canadian. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1947.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat..[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 "Florence Randal Livesay," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Thomson Gale, 2005-2006,, Web, Feb. 18, 2012.
  2. John Garvin, Florence Randal Livesay, Canadian Poets (Toronto: McClelland, Goodchild & Stewart, 1916), 371-372, Digital Library, University of Pennsylvania,, Web, Feb. 18, 2012.
  3. Search results=Florence Randal Livesay, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 3, 2012.

External linksEdit

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