John A. Macdonald: Canada’s First Prime Minister — in 49,000 Words

3 09 2013

AS: In this talk, Ged Martin will talk about the challenges he faced in trying to write the biography Canada’s first Prime Minister in a single volume and with a tight word limit. Other biographers of the man had two volumes to work with. I recently read this biography. It’s both accessible and scholarly and ought to be read by every Canadian who cares about their country’s history.


University College London Institute of the Americas

51 Gordon Square, London WC1


5.30 p.m. for 6.00 p.m.

Speaker: Ged Martin


Ged Martin’s long-running biographical project on Sir John A. Macdonald has focused on specific issues in his life, including his relations with his constituents in Kingston, Ontario, and his alcohol problem.
The project has now made the transition to a volume in Dundurn’s Quest Biography series, a format limited to a text of 49,000 words.
In this seminar, Ged Martin discusses the challenges and the advantages of this tight framework in discussing the career of a politician who died in office at the age of 76, and attempts to highlight new perspectives on Macdonald.

An attempt may be made to use Powerpoint.

Survivors will be invited to retreat to the bar in the Tavistock Hotel afterwards to recover.

Ged Martin has published widely in Commonwealth history. His latest book is John A. Macdonald: Canada’s First Prime Minister (Dundurn, 2013). Other books include Britain and the Origins of Canadian Confederation 1837-1867 (Macmillan/UBC Press, 1995), Favourite Son? John A. Macdonald and the Voters of Kingston 1841-1891 (Kingston Historical Society, 2010) and Past Futures: the Impossible Necessity of History (University of Toronto Press, 2004).

Ged Martin is Emeritus Professor of Canadian Studies of the University of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of Hughes Hall, Cambridge. He lives in Ireland.



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