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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 30 June 1862Camden East, Ontario, Canada
Date of Death 6 September 1932London, Ontario, Canada  (heart attack)

Mini Bio (1)

Sir Gilbert Parker--the popular Canadian novelist, short-story writer and poet who rose from backwoods obscurity to the seats of the mighty in the British Empire--was born on November 23, 1862, in Camden East, Addington, Ontario, to Royal Army Capt. J. Parker and his wife. After attending school in Ottawa and matriculating at Toronto's Trinity University, Parker moved to Australia in 1886, serving as an associate editor on the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. His travels took him throughout the Pacific. Subsequently, after his return to Canada, he extensively journeyed through northern Canada

Parker was a contemporary of the poet and short story writer Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, the first writer to express the new nationalism that resulted from the confederation of Britain's North American provinces into Canada in 1867. Roberts' work inspired a nationalist school of Canadian poets in the late 19th century.

Parker's works typically dealt with Canadian history, and later with England and the British Empire. Moving to England in 1889, he made his literary reputation with romantic novels and short stories "aboot" Canada, and with historical novels such as his 1896 depiction of the court of King Louis XV, "The Seats of the Mighty" (made into a film in 1914, The Seats of the Mighty (1914), starring Lionel Barrymore)). His finest works deal with French-Canadian life and history, such as "Pierre and His People" (1892) (dramatized on Broadway by Edgar Selwyn, and filmed in 1914 as Pierre of the Plains (1914), remade in 1942 as Pierre of the Plains (1942))). Though he wrote of England and the Empire, starting in 1898 with "The Battle of the Strong," it is for his Canadian stories that he is still remembered into the 21st century, due to their high quality, fine descriptions and gripping drama. The short story collection published in 1900, "The Lane that had no Turning," contains some of his finest work, including the title story.

In 1895 Parker married a wealthy American heiress of New York's Van Tine family. His politics were strongly imperial, and in 1900 he was elected to Parliament as a Conservative member for Gravesend on the Unionist ticket. Parker was knighted in 1902, and although he still kept writing, most of his energies became absorbed by politics. A champion of Imperial Preference Trade and Tariff Reform, his power in the House of Commons began to wax, and by 1910 he was a figure to be reckoned with. He was, according to political observers, one of the most powerful Unionist politicians not serving in the government. He would serve a total of 18 years in Parliament, being re-elected in 1906 and again in 1910.

The quality of his literary output suffered from devoting so much energy to politics, but he was influential by investing the Imperialist movement with a great deal of enthusiasm. Parker cracked the top 10 best sellers list in the U.S. after becoming an M.P., with "The Weavers", which ranked #2 in 1907 and #10 in 1908, and "The Judgement House," which made it to #7 in 1913. His contemporaries on the list included Winston Churchill (the American writer, not the English politician-writer who became Prime Minister in 1940), Edna Ferber and Booth Tarkington.

Sir Gilbert Parker died in his native Canada, of a heart attack, on September 6, 1932, in London, Ontario.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (1)

? (1895 - ?)

Trivia (3)

An unusual event in his political career happened in his first parliamentary term, sometime before Easter, 1905, according to the article "Unghostly apparition" published in 'Whig-Standard Magazine' (no. 9; December 15, 1990). Going about his business during a parliamentary debate, he saw another M.P., Major Sir Carne Rasch, sitting on the bench behind him, but not in his customary seat. Since he had been gravely ill, Parker spoke to him, expressing his hope that his friend Rasch felt better. But a grim-faced Rasch did not reply. A moment later, when Parker turned around to speak to him again, Rasch was gone.

Parker than began looking for Rasch, but he could not find him. Neither the two Unionist whips, nor the House of Commons doorkeeper could remember having seen Rasch. After looking some more, he was told the lobbyist Sir Henry Meysey-Thompson had been looking for Rasch, too, for parliamentary reasons. The two M.P.s thought that Rasch must have died, and his ghost had made a final appearance in Commons. They noted the day and time of the occurence.

But Rasch, who had had the flu, which was often fatal in the days before antibiotics, had not died. When he next attended Parliament, Parker told his fellow M.P. of his experience. Rasch took it in good stride, and told the press, "I ought to apologize to the Liberal Party for not having died when I suppose I ought. Had I done so it would have saved them a good deal of trouble. If I have another chance perhaps I will endeavor to oblige them."

The newspapers had a field day with the story. Parker's sighting was later confirmed by M.P. Colonel Sir Arthur Hayter, who said he too had seen Rasch in the Commons sitting below the gangway, not in his usual seat. Hayter reported the appearance to Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, who was sitting on the Front Opposition Bench. Hayter told Campbell-Bannerman that he wondered why the press had reported that Rasch was ill, when he was sitting opposite of them. Seeing the doppelganger himself, Campbell-Bannerman commented that he hoped Rasch's illness wasn't catchy.

After all the hoopla in the press, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman went on to become Prime Minister later that year. On his part, Sir Carne Rasch lived another nine years, dying on September 27, 1914, at the age of 66.
Served in the English parliament from 1900 to 1918, when he was elected as the Conservative M.P. from Gravesend in 1900, 1906 and 1910.
Knighted in 1902, as Sir Gilbert Parker, Baronet.

Personal Quotes (1)

American money and American interaction in world affairs, as shown by President Hoover, are priceless assets in the story of the nations....

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