Authors: Stephen Leacock

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Canadian humorist

Author Works

Short Fiction:

Literary Lapses, 1910

Nonsense Novels, 1911

Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, 1912

Behind the Beyond, and Other Contributions to Human Knowledge, 1913

Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich, 1914

Moonbeams from the Larger Lunacy, 1915

Further Foolishness: Sketches and Satires on the Follies of the Day, 1916

Frenzied Fiction, 1918

The Hohenzollerns in America: With the Bolsheviks in Berlin, and Other Impossibilities, 1919

Winsome Winnie, and Other New Nonsense Novels, 1920

My Discovery of England, 1922

College Days, 1923

Over the Footlights, 1923

The Garden of Folly, 1924

Winnowed Wisdom, 1926

Short Circuits, 1928

The Iron Man and the Tin Woman, with Other Such Futurities, 1929

Wet Wit and Dry Humour: Distilled from the Pages of Stephen Leacock, 1931

The Dry Pickwick, and Other Incongruities, 1932

Afternoons in Utopia: Tales of the New Time, 1932

Hellements of Hickonomics in Hiccoughs of Verse Done in Our Social Planning Mill, 1936

Funny Pieces: A Book of Random Sketches, 1936

Here Are My Lectures and Stories, 1937

Model Memoirs, and Other Sketches from Simple to Serious, 1938

My Remarkable Uncle, and Other Sketches, 1942

Happy Stories Just to Laugh At, 1943

Last Leaves, 1945


“Q”: A Farce in One Act, pr., pb. 1915 (with Basil Macdonald)


Elements of Political Science, 1906

Baldwin, Lafontaine, Hincks: Responsible Government, 1907, enlarged 1920 (as Mackenzie, Baldwin, Lafontaine, Hincks)

Adventures of the Far North: A Chronicle of the Frozen Seas, 1914

The Dawn of Canadian History: A Chronicle of Aboriginal Canada and the Coming of the White Man, 1914

The Mariner of St. Malo: A Chronicle of the Voyages of Jacques Cartier, 1914

Essays and Literary Studies, 1916

The Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, 1920

Economic Prosperity in the British Empire, 1930

Back to Prosperity: The Great Opportunity of the Empire Conference, 1932

Mark Twain, 1932

Charles Dickens: His Life and Work, 1933

Lincoln Frees the Slaves, 1934

The Pursuit of Knowledge: A Discussion of Freedom and Compulsion in Education, 1934

Humour: Its Theory and Technique, 1935

The Gathering Financial Crisis in Canada: A Survey of the Present Critical Situation, 1936

Humour and Humanity: An Introduction to the Study of Humour, 1937

My Discovery of the West: A Discussion of East and West in Canada, 1937

Too Much College: Or, Education Eating Up Life, 1939

The British Empire: Its Structure, Its History, Its Strength, 1940

Canada: The Foundations of Its Future, 1941

Our Heritage of Liberty: Its Origin, Its Achievement, Its Crisis, a Book for War Time, 1942

Montreal: Seaport and City, 1942

How to Write, 1943

Canada and the Sea, 1944

While There Is Time: The Case Against Social Catastrophe, 1945

The Boy I Left Behind Me, 1946 (memoir).


Stephen Butler Leacock (LEE-kahk) was a well-known Canadian humorist and writer. He was born in England and went to Canada as a young boy. The family settled on a farm in the Lake Simcoe region of Ontario. He attended Upper Canada College in Toronto and eventually the University of Toronto, where he received a B.A. degree in 1891. Following ten years’ work as a schoolteacher, principally at Upper Canada College, he entered graduate study in the field of political economy at the University of Chicago and received a Ph.D. degree from there in 1903. The same year, he accepted a full-time position in the department of economics and political science at McGill University in Montreal, where he remained until his retirement in 1936.{$I[A]Leacock, Stephen}{$I[geo]CANADA;Leacock, Stephen}{$I[tim]1869;Leacock, Stephen}

He began his career as a humorist in 1894 with the publication of a short sketch in a Toronto magazine. He continued to publish humorous pieces in American and Canadian magazines until his first collection, Literary Lapses, came out in 1910. From that point on, he continued to bring out regular collections of his work, much of which appeared first in newspapers and magazines and was polished on the public lecture circuit. His total output in the humor genre consists of twenty-seven volumes. The best known of these works is unquestionably Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, based on life in the small town of Orillia, Ontario (to which he gave the fictional name Mariposa), where he had connections originating in the 1890’s and later built a home. Among his other works in the genre, Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich also continues to be read for the contrasting portrait it provides of life in the big city.

In addition to humor, Leacock wrote biography, history, economics, political science, and literary criticism. His first published work was actually a textbook, Elements of Political Science, in 1906. The book remained in print for many years and is said to have outsold any of his other works during his lifetime. His principal biographical subjects were Mark Twain and Charles Dickens, and his historical writings dealt primarily with events and personages in Canadian history.

Leacock married Beatrix Hamilton of Toronto in 1900, and they had one son, Stephen Lushington, born in 1915. The marriage ended tragically when Leacock’s wife died of cancer in 1925 at the age forty-six. He did not remarry and died in 1944 at the age of seventy-four. Today, Leacock tends to be viewed by those who study him as a representative of an earlier time and culture. His outlook–on issues such as imperialism, the superiority of Anglo-Saxon culture and the role of women–was decidedly Victorian in character, and the prevailing tone of “kindliness” in his humor is thought to have impeded the development of a critical edge in his art. Still, as the author of two unquestioned masterpieces, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich, he continues to be read and remembered as an important figure in Canadian literary development.

BibliographyBush, Douglas. “Stephen Leacock.” In The Canadian Imagination: Dimensions of a Literary Culture, edited by David Staines. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1977. An attempt to place the author within the broader context and development of Canadian literature.Davies, Robertson. Stephen Leacock. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970. A short introduction to the author and his work, written for the Canadian Writers series by a well-known Canadian novelist and critic.Legate, David M. Stephen Leacock: A Biography. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1970. An early biography by a journalist, literary critic, and friend.Lynch, Gerald. Stephen Leacock: Humour and Humanity. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1988. A study of Leacock’s political and literary ideas through the analysis of his two best-known works, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich.Moritz, Albert, and Theresa Moritz. Stephen Leacock: His Remarkable Life. Markham, Ont.: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2002. An intellectual biography connecting Leacock to the major events and ideas of his time.Spadoni, Carl. A Bibliography of Stephen Leacock. Toronto: ECW Press, 1998. The definitive bibliography of the author’s work.Staines, David, ed. Stephen Leacock: A Reappraisal. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 1986. A collection of critical essays on the man and his work.
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