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Agnes Machar published novels, historical works and collections of prose and poetry. Often writing under the pseudonym "Fidelis," she contributed numerous articles, reviews, poems and stories to periodicals such as The Week and Rose-Belford's Canadian Monthly. All genres of her writing were coloured by her views as an earnest Christian, nationalist, feminist and social crusader.
Machar was born in Kingston, Ontario, to parents who both came from scholarly and religious backgrounds. Her father, a Presbyterian minister, became principal of Queen's University. Educated at home, Machar was greatly influenced by her religious and intellectual environment.
Her first novel, Katie Johnstone's Cross: A Canadian Tale, published in 1870, was awarded a prize for best children's Sunday school fiction. The book's religious and reformist ideals became elements of all her novels. Although Machar has been criticized for didactic and unrealistic writing, she was not afraid to examine issues that were largely overlooked by her literary peers. Her 1892 adult novel, Roland Graeme, Knight: A Novel of Our Time, was one of the few in that period to deal with the negative aspects of industrialization. Addressing issues such as women's rights, compulsory education and workplace conditions, Machar earned respect in her time as both an author and a compassionate social critic.
Fidelis. — "Women's work". — Rose-Belford's Canadian monthly and national review. — Vol. 1 (May 1878). — P. 295-311
Machar, Agnes M. — "The higher education of women". Week — Vol. 7, no. 4 (December 1889). — P. 55-56
— Lucy Raymond, or, The children's watchword. — Toronto: [s.n.], c1871.
— For king and country: a story of 1812. — Toronto: Adam, Stevenson, c1874. — 265 p.