Canadian Poetry Online top banner link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page
Richard Outram
Photo credit: Hubert de Santana

Richard Outram (1930-2005)
was born in Oshawa, Ontario. His mother, née Mary Muriel Daley, was the daughter of a Methodist minister centrally involved in the negotiations which led to the creation of the United Church of Canada. His father, Allan Outram, son of the owner of the hardware store in Port Hope, served and was wounded in the First World War. From 1949 to 1953, Outram was enrolled in the Honours B.A., English and Philosophy course at Victoria College in the University of Toronto. Two of his teachers, the philosopher Emil Fackenheim and the critic Northrop Frye, with the latter of whom Outram studied Milton, Spenser and (when E.J. Pratt became ill) Shakespeare, had a profound and lasting effect on him. During the summers of 1950 and 1951, Outram also served as an officer cadet in the reserve system of the Royal Canadian Navy, aboard frigates in the Bay of Fundy and at HMCS Stadacona in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

After graduation, Outram worked with the CBC as a television stagehand for a year, then he moved to London, England, where he worked as a television stagehand for the BBC between 1955 and 1956. During those years he began to write poetry. During them also, he met his future wife, the Toronto painter and wood engraver Barbara Howard. They returned to Toronto to marry in 1957. Outram went back to work with the CBC, first, again, as a television stagehand, then as a stage crew foreman, a position he held until early retirement at the age of sixty in 1990. Having lost his wife in 2002, Outram took his own life, dying of hypothermia in Port Hope, Ontario.

Between 1966 and 2001, Outram wrote ten commercially published collections of poetry (South of North: Images of Canada, with drawings by Thoreau MacDonald was published posthumously in 2007). In addition to these commercial publications, Outram has issued over a dozen other collections of poetry and prose under the imprint of the Gauntlet Press which he founded with his wife in the 1960s. Its limited editions of four small collections by Outram, Creatures (1972), Thresholds (1973), Locus (1974) and Arbor (1976), illustrated with wood engravings by Howard, are prized by collectors and can be found in important public collections such as the University of Toronto Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, which is also the repository for Outram's personal papers and manuscripts.

The Gauntlet Press also issued a series of broadsheets of Outram's poems throughout the 1970s and 1980s, all of them designed (and many frequently illustrated) by Howard. In the early 1990s the Gauntlet Press switched from letterpress to digitally based production on the computer. As well as his poem and prose broadsheets, the press during this electronic phase issued nine small books by Outram in limited editions. Among them are Around & About the Toronto Islands (1993); Tradecraft and Other Uncollected Poems (1994); Eros Descending (1995); Ms Cassie (2000) and Lightfall (2001). Many of the poems from these Gauntlet Press publications (with the exception of Ms Cassie and Lightfall) have been gathered into the commercially available Dove Legend and Other Poems.

Digital facsimiles of the books and broadsheets of the Gauntlet Press in the collection of the Memorial University of Newfoundland can be viewed at the website dedicated to The Gauntlet Press of Richard Outram and Barbara Howard, together with extensive background material and an exhaustive bibliography.


Richard Outram's works copyright © to The Estate of the Author.


Canadian Poetry Online bottom banner link to University of Toronto Libraries home page link to Digital Collections home page link to University of Toronto Library catalogue link to Canadian Poetry Online home page link to University of Toronto Libraries home page