Stephen Leacock (1869-1944)

Stephen Leacock and his many contribtions to Economics, Political Science and Comedic WritingSo well known is Stephen Butler Leacock as a comedic writer that most people forget entirely that his first book was titled Elements of Political Science (1906). As a lecturer and professor in McGill's Department of Economics and Political Science from 1900 to 1936, Leacock established such a reputation that Canada's then-Governor General paid for him to tour the Commonwealth on the subject of "Imperial Organization."

Whatever his academic reputation, the 1910 publication of his first fiction book, Literary Lapses, was a sign of things to come. The following year he published Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, a gentle satire on small town Canada. It was an enormous success. Leacock would go on to become one of Canada's most internationally successful authors with his articles and books, which include Arcadian Adventures of the Idle Rich and My Discovery of England. He continued to publish his literary works even as he continued to produce tomes on Canadian history, international economics and politics. In a career that spanned both the World Wars and the Depression, he recognized the importance of both endeavours; "Humour in a world of waning beliefs remains like Hope still left at the bottom of Pandora's box when all the evils of the Gods flew out from it upon the world."

No less a figure than F. Scott Fitzgerald sheepishly admitted to lifting his characters, and Timothy Findlay was moved to write of him that "With his stories and his books, his people and his insights, he has left a legacy for everyone who reads and - I must add - for everyone who writes. It well may be, indeed, that Stephen Butler Leacock is the grandfather of us all."

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