In the editors’ confidence

How a novelist turned reporter in Manning’s Alberta

November 16 1964
In the editors’ confidence

How a novelist turned reporter in Manning’s Alberta

November 16 1964

How a novelist turned reporter in Manning’s Alberta

In the editors’ confidence

WHEN ARTHUR HAIEEY visited Alberta twenty-two years ago, it was as a student pilot fresh from his native England, completing his RAF training. In Alberta he earned his wings, decided to live in Canada when the war ended, and had his first love affair. “I feel sentimental about Alberta,” he says.

Albertans had no inkling in 1942, nor did Hailey, that when he revisited Alberta in 1964 on an assignment for Maclean's he would be Canada's most successful novelist, one of the world's top TV playwrights, and a much-sought-after film writer.

His assignment for us (see page 15) was to dig out the facts behind the recent rumors and innuendoes that have suggested that political skulduggery is rampant in the oil-rich province where power has been held since 1935 by one party, Social Credit, and two men, first Premier William Aberhart, and now Premier Ernest Manning, both of whom have, in curious fashion, entwined practical politics with religious evangelism.

While the newspapers have reported the rumors, they haven't come down to cases and told Canadians what the whispering is all about. Maclean's asked Hailey to take a hard look at what has been happening because it seemed likely that if anybody could get at the truth about Alberta, and tell it clearly and interestingly, he could. Why?

Well, to begin with, he proved his political savvy in 1961 by writing the most exciting and informative Canadian political novel yet written — the best-selling, prize-winning In High Places. which showed uncanny insight into what transpires in the soundproofed sanctums of the mighty.

Second, he’s an indefatigable and meticulous researcher. Wearing a white intern's jacket, he spent months in hospitals gathering material for the two-part TV play, No Deadly Medicine. This launched the revival of medical TV dramas, among them The Nurses, a series Hailey originated and from which he still draw's fat royalties although others write and produce it. Hailey rew'rote No Deadly Medicine as a novel, The Final Diagnosis, a Literary Guild selection read by millions in fifteen languages, and rewrote it again as the movie. The Young Doctors. For Hotel, his new novel to be published in January by Doubleday,

he prowled through big hotels for w'ccks, studying the inner workings the public doesn’t see. He’s a peerless researcher because, in his owm words, “I’m naturally a nosy person."

Third, he has a knack of persuading people to talk freely; his prestige as an author and playwright opens doors that m i g h t ordinarily be closed; and he combines a sure instinct for grasping the essentials of a complex situation with the gift of a born story teller.

That’s why Maclean's assigned him to Alberta, and we think that you will find the result an enlightening and fascinating piece of political reporting — an article with the color, the character delineation and the gripping quality of one of Hailey’s own novels. ★