An only child, she was born in Montreal, Quebec in 1922. Her parents died when she was young, and she was educated in a mind-boggling series of 17 public, convent, and boarding schools. In her twenties, she worked as a reporter for the Montreal Standard (1944-1950), leaving journalism in 1950 to pursue her true love and vocation: fiction writing.
Although she maintains her Canadian citizenship, because she wanted a life of independence and cultural stimulation, and because of her fluency in both French and English, she chose Paris, France as her home base.
Mavis Gallant has the esteemed privilege of being one of the few Canadian authors whose works regularly appear in The New Yorker. Many of Ms. Gallant's stories appear there first and are subsequently brought under one cover to form a collection.
Gallant has written two novels, "Green Water, Green Sky" (1969) and "A Fairly Good Time" (1970); a play, What is to be Done? (1984); numerous celebrated collections of stories, The Other Paris (1956), My Heart is Broken (1964), The Pegnitz Junction (1973), The End of the World and Other Stories (1974), From the Fifteenth District (1978), Home Truths: Selected Canadian Stories (1981), Overhead in a Balloon: Stories of Paris (1985), and In Transit (1988); and a non-fiction work, Paris Journals: Selected Essays and Reviews (1986).
In 1981, Gallant was honoured by her native country and made an "Officer of the Order of Canada" for her contribution to literature; that year, she received the Governor General's Award for literature for her collection of stories, "Home Truths." In 1983-84, she returned to Canada to be the writer-in-residence at the University of Toronto. Queen's University bestowed an LL.D. upon her in 1991.
Mavis Gallant's life in Paris is spent writing her internationally acclaimed stories and in participating in the occasional gallery opening and gala opening night exhibits. She assiduously reads daily newspapers in German, Italian, French, and English and occasionally (and reluctantly) grants an interview.