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Hilary Scharper

Hilary Cunningham Scharper (born 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, self-coined, "ecoGothic" fiction.


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


Scharper's first novel, Perdita (2013) is a gothic novel with strong nature themes. She has characterized her writing as "ecoGothic," a newly minted subgenre that represents a more ecologically aware gothic.[4] Scharper has stated: "I do not treat nature as merely a backdrop or setting, but rather as an active and indeed central player in the narrative."[5] Jennifer Dawson credits Scharper with originating the term "ecoGothic".[5] 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."[6]

Scharper's book of short stories, Dream Dresses (2009), draws upon her experience as an ethnographer and explores women's experiences of dressing over the life cycle.[7][8] Hollins Critic writes that Scharper "brings to her fiction writing a trained anthropological eye."[7] The Toronto Star wrote that her writing in Dream Dresses was "reminiscent of Thomas Carlyle."[2]

Selected worksEdit


  • Dream Dresses: Stories (2009) ISBN 978-0-9808879-5-2
  • Perdita (2013) ISBN 1-4926-0244-2, ISBN 978-1-4926-0244-6


  1. ^,+Hilary,+1961-%22&rt=1&bill=1
  2. ^ a b Livingstone, David (30 May 2009). "A Heart Beats Inside That Wardrobe". Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 February 2018 – via EBSCOhost. (Subscription required (help)).
  3. ^
  4. ^ EcoGothic. Ed. William Hughes and Andrew Smith. International Gothic Series, University of Manchester Press, 2013. ISBN 9781526106896.
  5. ^ a b Quoted 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. p. 133. Dawson credits Scharper with originating the "ecoGothic".
  6. ^ Bob Douglas, "The Eco-Gothic: Hilary Scharper's Perdita", Critics at Large, February 19, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Cherry, Kelly (2010). "Dream Dresses: Stories". Hollins Critic. 47 (1): 13–14 – via EBSCOhost. (Subscription required (help)).
  8. ^ Bartley, Jim (August 14, 2009). "Dream Dresses, by Hilary Scharper". The Globe and Mail.

External linksEdit