Who is Daryl Sharp?

Daryl Sharp in the backyard of his house in Toronto on Aug. 20, 2015. Photo by Laura London.

Daryl Leonard Merle Sharp was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, on Jan. 2, 1936, a Capricorn.

In 1892, his maternal grandparents, aged 3, emigrated from a German enclave in Odessa, third largest city in Ukraine (then White Russia). They travelled on a freighter separately with their respective parents. Years later they met in Regina, Saskatchewan. They married in a Catholic church, but he thinks they were actually Jewish, for he often heard his mother speaking Yiddish with her mom's old friends, and later in life the German language came easily to him.

His babushka Martha Weist never learned to read or write English, though her husband Martin became a typesetter on the local newspaper, The Regina Leader Post. He spent many evenings in United Church basements playing Bingo with his gramma as she stuffed him with hot dogs and cokes, potato chips and chocolate bars, for which he later lost a lot of teeth. She always won something (napkins, silverware, lamps). She died in 1972 in an old age home playing gin rummy with her cronies at the age of 86. Martin had died 10 years earlier.

Daryl's mother Marion, born 1910, was a chorus girl, a "flapper" in the "roaring twenties." His father Emery worked for years as a brakeman on the Canadian National Railway (CNR) before becoming a bank teller. In 1942 he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) as an accountant. Daryl had one brother, two years older, who bullied him from time to time, but with affection. Daryl's mother took Eros into the kitchen, where she held the family together. She always claimed Daryl was named after the movie mogul Darryl F. Zanuck, but she couldn't account for the difference in spelling. One of Daryl's middle names came from his uncle Len, a feckles prairies boozer; the other from his father's brother Merle, a sober accountant with the Royal Bank of Canada in Regina.

The Sharp family moved frequently from one air force base to another across Canada, spending a year or so in each province, ending up in Middleton, Nova Scotia, where Daryl completed his high school years in 1953 at the head of his class. He excelled at badminton, basketball, snooker, table tennis, and had a rep as a budding ladies man. He read only science-fiction, publishing and distributing his own fan-zine at the age of sixteen. His only ambition was to emulate Hugo Gernsbach, publisher of Amazing Stories and a multitude of other sci-fi magazines.

Father Emery was posted to Ottawa in 1953. It was timely, for Daryl had just won a scholarship to Carleton University in Ottawa, where he spent the next four years acquiring a B.Sc. in maths and physics and a post-graduate B.J. in journalism while he was president of the Students' Council. This was just before Carleton moved from its constricted quarters with 750 students in an old Teachers' College building to its luxurious new campus with a current enrolment of about 40,000.

In the summer of 1956, Daryl found a summer job on an isolated Eskimo reserve, Coral Island, in the middle of Hudson Bay. He was a "shoran (short-range) analyst," charting the frozen tundra from radio signals sent daily by aircraft passing overhead. This stint ended earlier than expected because the cabin he'd helped build burned down when his mates wrestled and knocked over an oil-stove after drinking on the reserve.

After graduating from Carleton in 1957, Daryl was wooed by several conglomerates, and finally recruited by Procter & Gamble for the then-princely salary of $3,000 a year after being flown to Cincinnati to be blessed by the brass. He moved to Toronto, where he had an office and title as Director of Public Relations for Canada. He was 21 years old; he had a midnight-blue suit, Brylcreem ("a little dab'll do ya") and a key to theexecutive washroom. He had two cameras and a buxom blonde secretary named Gladys. His Bible was Dale Carnegie's How To Win Friends and Influence People. He was head of the bowling team and editor of the in-house magazine Moonbeams. He was an extraverted social animal and cock of the walk with the young secretaries. He lived in a fraternity house in the downtown core and had a reputation as a dynamite dancer.

Daryl was quite content. He loved his job. He photographed factory workers and wrote articles about their happy blue-collar lives (mostly fantasy).  All was well until he fell in with some literary friends who mocked him as Organization Man and convinced him that his talents were wasted at P&G. Daryl had repressed ambitions as a writer, and so, for the first time ever, he was conflicted. He chewed on this for many months.

At last, in 1959, with savings of $1,000, Daryl chose a twin-screw steamer to France over a 1958 Ford Thunderbird convertible. On board this slow-moving little ship with maybe 300 passengers, for two weeks Daryl produced the daily newsletter slipped under doors at 8 a.m., and won the ping-pong tournament. He found some pretty ladies to romance and avoided gay hustlers, but mostly he wrote about his experience.

The boat docked in Le Havre. It was a short train trip to Paris, where Daryl had a rollicking time as a struggling writer shacked up with a madamoiselle on the Left Bank until his money ran out. He then debouched to England, where he found ready employment for awhile as a substitute teacher in high schools and packing books in the prestigious Harrod's department store. At night he went to plays or haunted Covent Garden for the ballet and opera. It was emotionally exhilarating after the cultural wasteland that Toronto then was.

In 1960, homesick Daryl returned to Canada and landed a job with Canadian Press (CP). This work was much too boring, and so he applied to the Berlitz School for an assignment teaching English abroad, which he was given in the heartland of Germany, Bad Kreuznach (near Frankfurt). This was an enlightening experience with frauleins, but he could barely survive on 400 marks ($100 a month), so he returned to Toronto, where he worked as a short-order cook in a café and assiduously rebuffed offers to return to mainstream corporate life.

After six months, desperate to return to England, through a friend's father he secured a seat on a rhesus monkey flight out of Moncton, New Brunswick to Manchester, England. This was not a pleasant flight, just him and the pilot and two dozen monkeys pissing and defecating for 18 hours. From the home of the Beatles he made his way to London, where he found lodgings in a Chelsea basement apartment with four other young ex-pat Canadians who thrived on pubs and seducing young lovelies. He again made a bare living as a substitute teacher in those horrid secondary modern schools, where half the class was preparing for a life of crime and the other half asleep. ("Stick with it, Sir, we don't want to lose you!")

When Daryl was still 23 years old, his life of carefree debauchery came to a sudden end when he became besotted with a lovely young ex-pat (code name B.), whom he enticed to go to the south of France and live with him in a tent on the side of a hill in a small fishing village (Sète), near Montpelier and Saint Tropez. From there they toured Europe on her scooter for several months, making good use of fully-equipped youth hostels. It was idyllic until B. became pregnant. They then returned to London, where they married in Chelsea Old Church. For a few years they lived catch-as-catch-can in Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Putney, Devon, and finally in a seventeenth-century cottage in the small hamlet of Heyshott in West Sussex, where Daryl worked on his manuscripts in a shed at the foot of the garden and compiled indexes for London publishers. All very romantic, with two small sons.

Over time, Daryl had become obsessed with "existentialist" writers like Kafka, Rilke, Kierkegaard, Sartre, Nietzsche, Dostoyevski, Henry Miller, and Carl Gustav Jung. In 1963 he applied to the new University of Sussex in Brighton for the post-graduate M.A. degree in literature and philosophy, code-named "The Modern European Mind." He was accepted and excelled, and the next year he was recommended for an exchange position at the University of Dijon in France. Daryl and B. jumped at the chance. To finance their impending cross-channel adventure, Daryl took a job as a common laborer rebuilding the Waterloo Bridge; his wage was 2 and 6 – two shillings and six pence (US 60 cents) an hour. Not much, but it added up over a few weeks, eight hours a day plus overtime. In Dijon, Daryl planned to do a Ph.D. thesis called "In Search of the Self," explicating the work of Soren Kierkegaard ("The Religious Self"), D. H. Lawrence ("The Vital Self"), andJean-Jacques Rousseau ("The Natural Self"). He might have added Jung ("The Psychological Self") if he had known that great man well enough at the time. Rousseau's papers were archived in the University of Dijon, and Daryl's French was adequate to the task. In exchange, Daryl would teach a few weekly classes in English, and once a month would partake of the 6-course all-male dinner with wines from the Route des Grand Crus ("road of the great wines"). B., innately feminist, did not relish being left out, but that was the protocol. 

It was not an easy year in Dijon. For the first month they lived in a youth hostel with their two kids, until a humble apartment was found for them in a building where thirty residents shared one outdoor unenclosed toilette.

They packed their old green van, B. now eight months pregnant, and drove back to England in July of 1966, camping on the way to wake up to a herd of large and fearsome cows nudging the windows. He never camped again. Two weeks later, their third child was born, named Tanya after that rascal Henry Miller's paramour in Tropic of Cancer. Daryl's painstaking dissertation was rejected by the University of Sussex as "expository but not original." This put an end to his vague thoughts of an academic career.

In 1969 they decided to return to Canada and live in B.'s inherited house in Burlington, Ontario, a small town 40 miles from Toronto. This move was accomplished with no small labors, but being back in Canada was good for awhile. Daryl found freelance work with publishers in Toronto and commuted back and forth. However, all was not well in the Sharp household. I think Daryl was a decent father but not a great husband. He could not abide mowing grass for eight hours a week, and he was not cut out to be "the (handy) man around the house." B. too was not happy. They both turned to others for solace.

The climax came when Daryl was dislodging a beehive in the house eaves and was stung by a bee. He went into anaphilactic shock and spent two days in the hospital. He underwent allergy treatments for a year, but it turned out he was only allergic to B. The symbolism did not escape him. He flew back to London, where he woke up one morning from a dream and couldn't stop crying. The next day he started seeing a Jungian analyst, Dr. Anthony Stevens, who helped him off his knees for a couple of weeks. Daryl wanted and needed more, but first he had to go home to inform his family and quit his job, for in 1970 a group of playwrights had hired him as director of the Playwright's Co-op, established to publish Canadian plays with a small staff supported by a government grant. It was a sign of Canada's burgeoning cultural life. Daryl traveled across Canada promoting the plays to theatres in other provinces. He meanwhile grew marijuana ("Belltower Fineglow") in the Burlington garden behind the corn and hid in the basement toking his home-grown weed in quiet desperation.

In 1973, with himself and his marriage in tatters, he flew back to England to continue analysis. After a few months he went to Zurich to inquire about Jungian training. With references from the writer Robertson Davies and the academic Northrop Frye, he was accepted, but had to wait until fall 1974 to enter the program. Back in Canada, he suggested B. sell her house and go to Zurich with him and the children. She refused (in retrospect a wise decision). Two weeks after Christmas 1973 Daryl tussled with B., tearfully kissed his kids goodbye and took a midnight bus to Toronto, where for eight months he lived in a seedy basement apartment whose walls he papered with paintings of mandalas and dream images and rejection slips.

In Switzerland, Daryl found work teaching English and editing books. Much more happened in between, but in 1978 he graduated with a Diploma in Jungian Psychology. He then returned to Toronto and the three children he had missed terribly. B. unexpectedly assumed they would resume their married life, but Daryl had other plans in mind. Bitter and emotionally bereft, B. delayed their divorce until 1983. On receipt of the divorce nisi, Daryl bought an old Victorian house a few blocks from his long-ago office at P&G. Synchronicity, anyone?

Daryl Sharp is no idiot savant, though some claim he was an idiot, if not wise, to found a publishing house in 1980, Inner City Books, catering exclusively to a then-niche Jungian market. He first published his Zurich thesis, The Secret Raven: Conflict and Transformation in the Life of Franz Kafka, but he did not want to be a one-shot vanity press, so he solicited manuscripts from other analysts. Over time this modest enterprise (never more than three people, including his grown offspring, one after another, and senior editor Victoria Cowan (code name Vicki), with whom he fathered Jessy Kate (code name JK)) netted him a small fortune, most of which he gave to his kids to buy their houses or to shelters for abused women. Always following where his introverted energy wanted to go, he published his own books (more than 30) and works by some 50 other analysts, including Marie-Louise von Franz (who graciously agreed to be his patron), Marion Woodman, Edward F. Edinger, Anthony Stevens, James Hollis and J. Gary Sparks – a canon of 150 titles, all "Jung at Heart."

{Narrative provided by Daryl Sharp. To listen to our interview from Aug. 20, 2015, please visit the podcast page.}