Born in Ireland in 1879, W.P.M. Kennedy was a distinguished Canadian academic and the leading Canadian constitutional law scholar for much of the twentieth century. Despite his trailblazing career and intriguing personal life, Kennedy’s story is largely a mystery. Weaving together a number of key events, Martin L. Friedland’s lively biography discusses Kennedy’s contributions as a legal and interdisciplinary scholar, his work at the University of Toronto where he founded the Faculty of Law, as well as his personal life, detailing stories about his family and important friends, such as Prime Minister Mackenzie King.
Kennedy earned a reputation in some circles for being something of a scoundrel, and Friedland does not shy away from addressing Kennedy’s exaggerated involvement in drafting the Irish constitution, his relationships with female students, and his quest for recognition. Throughout the biography, Friedland interjects with his own personal narratives surrounding his interactions with the Kennedy family, and how he came to acquire the private letters noted in the book. The result is a readable, accessible biography of an important figure in the history of Canadian intellectual life.