William Arthur Deacon

William Arthur Deacon, literary critic and editor (b at Pembroke, Ont 6 Apr 1890; d at Toronto 5 Aug 1977).

Deacon, William Arthur

William Arthur Deacon, literary critic and editor (b at Pembroke, Ont 6 Apr 1890; d at Toronto 5 Aug 1977). Trained as a lawyer in Winnipeg, Deacon was book review editor of, in turn, the Manitoba Free Press (1921), Saturday Night (1922-28), the Toronto Mail and Empire (1928-36) and the Mail and Empire's successor, the Globe and Mail (1936-61). A pioneer literary nationalist, he was both a provoker of and a participant in the cultural ferment of the 1920s, when he did his own best work: this includes Pens and Pirates (1923), Poteen and Other Essays (1926) and especially The Four Jameses (1927), a satirical study of Canadian poetasters. But in the 1930s his reputation withered in the shade of modernist writing and radical politics. At length he came to appear as a retrograde force to a literary culture that did not give him the credit he deserved for his long years of tireless activity.


Further Reading

  • C. Thomas and J. Lennox, William Arthur Deacon: A Canadian Literary Life (1982).