Demonic to Divine: The Double Life of Shulamis Yelin

Shulamis Yelin and Gilah Yelin Hirsch

A writer’s lifelong battle with mental illness.

Demonic to Divine: The Double Life of Shulamis Yelin is a weaving of the Montreal writer’s stories and selected diary excerpts and family photographs revealing a far-reaching creative personality who is haunted from the age of ten by the “moods taking over”.

This book poignantly illuminates the dramatic duality of a public and private literary and emotional life through published and unpublished stories of an idyllic Montreal Jewish childhood contrasted with deeply troubled and often shocking diary entries that document the author’s lifelong battle with mental illness.

Yelin’s insightful yet light and humorous stories have been cherished by generations of children and adults for their universal appeal. The journal entries that she maintained for most of her 90 years document the abuse, paranoia, self-loathing, doubt and devastating depression of Yelin’s true emotional state. These concurrent lenses reveal the profound struggles and suffering of a fascinating and highly gifted woman who transcended her ongoing deep-seated emotional agony to create a significant literary legacy.

The many threads of this multi-layered book have been woven together though the collaboration of Yelin’s daughter, Gilah Yelin Hirsch and Yelin’s first stories’ editor, Nancy Marrelli.

Véhicule Press

Read an excerpt


“Fraught with rage and admiration and bewilderment, a daughter reaches the through the pages of time to heroically attempt to fathom her mother.  Shulamis Yelin, was both a successful writer and a mentally ill mother.  In this fascinating book, her daughter searches for understanding with fluctuating compassion . . . and finds love. –Michele Zackheim, author of Last Train to Paris and Einstein’s Daughter

An influential teacher and writer, Shulamis Yelin was born in Montreal on April 12, 1913. She was named a Master Teacher by the Protestant School Board of Montreal. In 1963 she won the LaMed Award from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture (USA). Author of Seeded in Sinai (1975) and Shulamis: Stories from a Montreal Childhood (1983), Shulamis Yelin died in 2002.

Gilah Yelin Hirsch is a multidisciplinary artist and Professor of Art at California State University, Dominguez Hills, Los Angeles.

Nancy Marrelli is archivist emerita, Concordia University, and the author of Stepping Out: The Golden Age of Montreal Night Clubs and Burgundy Jazz: Little Burgundy and the Story of Montreal Jazz.

Laurence Kirmayer M.D., is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University.
Trade paperback
224 pp ISBN13: 9781550653830

CDN $20.00
US & International
US $20.00

ISBN13: 9781550653847

CDN $20.00