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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Extraordinary Canadians:Stephen Leacock

by (author) Margaret MacMillan

Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
Literary, Post-Confederation (1867-), Historical
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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In 1912, Stephen Leacock’s comic masterpiece Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town made him an international star overnight. He was published in magazines and newspapers across Canada and in New York and London. Charlie Chaplin asked him for a screenplay; a young F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed his admiration. Eminent historian Margaret MacMillan argues that, while much of what Leacock satirized in small-town Canada has disappeared, his humour endures. His skewering of pretension and his self-deprecating wit entertained thousands during his heyday, even as it defined a quintessentially Canadian stance. But Leacock, MacMillan points out, was also a public intellectual, engaged with questions about government, war, and a just society. Writing with her usual brio, MacMillan has created a wonderfully insightful and affectionate portrait of a man who mattered.

About the author

MARGARET MacMILLAN is the renowned author of Women Of The Raj, Stephen Leacock (Extraordinary Canadians series), and the international bestsellers Nixon In China and Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, which won the 2003 Governor General’s Award and the 2002 Samuel Johnson Prize. She is also the author of The Uses and Abuses of History. The past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, she is now the warden of St. Antony’s College at Oxford University.

Margaret MacMillan's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Lively . . . precise and eloquent.” —The Globe and Mail
“Margaret MacMillan does a superb job of breathing life into Stephen Leacock’s quirks and eccentricities—and evoking wrenching pity in the reader’s heart for Leacock’s often very unhappy lot in life.” —Calgary Herald

“A sympathetic but not uncritical portrait.” —Geist magazine

“MacMillan’s taut biography is rich in historical detail. In addition to sketching the career path of the McGill economics professor who developed a lucrative sideline in humour, the book provides fascinating glimpses into Canadian life during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.” —CBC News

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