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Phyllis Gotlieb, née Bloom, was born to a Jewish family in Toronto, Canada. She decided as a child to become a writer. She earned a bachelor's degree in literature from the University of Toronto in 1948 and a master's degree in 1950. In 1961, she published her first work, a collection of poems called Who Knows One. Her first novel, the science fiction tale Sunburst, appeared in 1964. Canada's first juried prize for literature of the fantastic, The Sunburst Award, was named in honor of this seminal book and she became known as "the mother of Canadian science fiction." Phyllis was a prolific and frequently translated writer and she was famed for creating detailed universes in her science fiction. In 1982, she received the first-ever Prix Aurora Award for Best Novel for A Judgement of Dragons. She was married to Calvin Gotlieb, a physicist and computer-science professor, with whom she had three children.
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