Downes was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the daughter of Doris Gwendoline (Bywater-Jones) and Gordon Downes. She attended the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she received a B.A. in 1934 and an M.A. in 1940. She also received teaching diplomas from UBC and the Sorbonne in the 1930's, and a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in 1953.
She taught English and (mainly) French at Duncan High School in Duncan, British Columbia (1936-1939), UBC (1940-1941 and 1946-1949) and the University of Victoria (1951-1978).
Besides writing original poetry, Downes translated the work of Quebec poets.
Downes was awarded a Canada Council Senior Arts Award in 1969.
- Lost Diver. Fredericton, NB: Fiddlehead Poetry Books, 1955.
- When We Lie Together. West Vancouver, BC: Klanak Press, 1973.
- Out of the Violent Dark: Poems and translations. Victoria, BC: Sono Nis Press, 1978.
- Cannibal Speech. Toronto: League of Canadian Poets, 1980.
- House of Cedars. Victoria, BC: Ekstasis Editions. 1999.
- ↑ "Gwladys Downes," Gwladys Downes obituary, Victoria Times-Colonist, September 28 2005, Legacy.com. Web, Apr. 5, 2017.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Gwladys (Violet) Downes Biography, Dictionary of Literary Biography (Thomson-Gale, 2005-2006). BookRags, Web, Feb. 11, 2013.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Gwladys Downes 1915- , Canadian Women Poets, Brock University, BrockU.ca, Web, July 1, 2012.
- "Tracking Down Alice in Bluebeardland: An appreciation of the poet Gwladys Downes and a poem I've been hunting for 25 years", Paul Vermeersch
- Gwladys Downes obituary, Victoria Times-Colonist
- Gwladys Downes 1915- at Canadian Women Poets
- "Gwladys Downes: Victoria College graduate and former professor leaves a legacy" at University of Victoria
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