Canadian humorist, essayist, teacher and political economist Stephen Leacock was born in England in 1869 and moved to Lake Simcoe, Ontario as a boy. He was educated at the prestigious Lower Canada College, however had to drop out and take a teaching job due to financial restrictions. Leacock eventually made the move to Montreal’s McGill University, where he quickly rose to become head of the Economics and Political Science Department, a position he kept until his retirement in 1936. He is best known for his humorous fiction; his two masterpieces are Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town (1912) and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich (1914), both of which explore themes of politics, religion and society in two very different settings. It is said that between the years of 1910 and 1925, Leacock was the single most widely-read English language author in the world.
Renowned historian Margaret MacMillan has great affection for Leacock’s gentle wit and, like he was, is interested in writings that cast fresh light on Canada’s colonial legacy. Born in Toronto in 1943, Dr. MacMillan – great-granddaughter of British Prime Minister David Lloyd George – is a professor at Oxford University and the University of Toronto. Her 2002 book Peacemakers: The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and Its Attempt to End War earned her a handful of literary awards, including the UK’s prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, and the 2003 Canada Governor General’s Literary Award.