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James King, Ph.D.

Professor of English

Email: jking@mcmaster.ca
Phone: 905-525-9140 ext. 24493
Office: Chester New Hall, Room 316

Areas of Interest

Visual modernisms in Canadian and English art; fiction and non-fiction writing.

Profile

James King F.R.S.C., has published: William Cowper: A Biography (Duke UP, 1986); Interior Landscapes: A Life of Paul Nash (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987); The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read (Weidenfeld & Nicolson and St Martin’s Press, 1990); William Blake: His Life (Weidenfeld & Nicolson and St Martin’s Press, 1991); Virginia Woolf (Hamish Hamilton, 1994; W.W. Norton, 1995); The Life of Margaret Laurence (Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997);Telling Lives or Telling Lies?: Biography and Fiction (U of Lethbridge P, 1997); Faking (novel) (Simon & Pierre, 1998) [trans. Faussaires (XYZ, 2001)]; Jack, A Life with Writers (Alfred A. Knopf Canada , 1999) [Chinese trans. 2001]; Blue Moon (novel) (Simon & Pierre, 2000); Farley: The Life of Farley Mowat (HarperCollins, 2002); Transformations (novel) (Cormorant 2003); Pure Inventions (novel) (Cormorant 2006); Japanese Warrior Prints, 1646-1905,  co-written with Yuriko Iwakiri, (Hotei Publishing ,2007); Beyond the Great Wave: The Japanese Landscape Print, 1727-1960 (Peter Lang, 2010); Under Foreign Eyes: Western Cinematic Reinventions of Postwar Japan (Zero, 2012) and Inward Journey: The Life of Lawren Harris (Thomas Allen, 2012); co-editor with Charles Ryskamp, The Letters and Prose Writing of William Cowper, five vols. (The Clarendon Press, 1979-1986); co-editor with Charles Ryskamp, William Cowper: Selected Letters (Clarendon Press, 1989); co-editor with Tim Walters, Early Voices (Juvenilia Press, 2001).

Dr. James King has won numerous honours:

  • Inner Places: The Life of David Milne (Dundurn Press, 2015) recently won the 2016 Hamilton Literary Award for non-fiction.
  • The Yorkshire Post Arts Award – given for ‘the finest book devoted to art history published during 1987, awarded for Interior Landscape
  • The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read, was a Finalist for the Governor General’s prize for non-fiction in 1991
  • He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada in 1993
  • Virginia Woolf, was selected as one of the best non-fiction books published in the United States during 1995 by Publishers Weekly and was awarded Best Book by Hamilton & Region Arts Council in 1995 [given to the Penguin edition]
  • The Life of Margaret Laurence was a finalist for CBA Non-Fiction Book of the Year in 1997 and won a Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 1997 with the Hamilton & Region Arts Council.
  • Étienne’s Alphabet (2010, Cormorant) was a finalist for the Toronto Book Award.
  • Old Masters (Cormorant, 2014) was shortlisted for the Trillium prize.

Dr. King has also held a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship; a Killam Research Fellowship, and a Nuffield Fellowship; and twelve Canada Council (SSHRCC) Research Grants.

King was a consultant for Where the Universe Sings, a full-length documentary film based on Inward Journey, his life of Lawren Harris. This film was released in the summer of 2016.

Edinburgh University Press published his biography of Roland Penrose, the English Surrealist painter, collector, impresario, and promoter of modernism, in June 2016. He spoke about this book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016.

The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe will be published in the autumn of 2017 by the Dundurn Press, Toronto.

His online biography and critical analysis of Bertram Brooker, Canada’s first abstract artist, will be published in the autumn of 2018 by Art Canada Institute.

He is now working on a biography of Michael Snow and is curating an exhibition called EARLY SNOW: Michael Snow 1947-1962 for the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Publications

Books:

 

 

The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe. Dundurn Press (forthcoming August 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roland Penrose: The Life of a Surrealist. Edinburgh University Press, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inner Places: The Life of David Milne. Dundurn Press, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inward Journey: The Life of Lawren Harris. Dundurn Press, 2012.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under Foreign Eyes: Western Cinematic Reinventions of Postwar Japan. Zero Books, 2012.

Beyond the Great Wave: The Japanese Landscape Print, 1727-1960. Peter Lang, 2010.

Japanese Warrior Prints, 1646-1905. Co-authors James King and Yuriko Iwakiri. Hotei Publishing, 2007.

Farley: The Life of Farley Mowat. HarperCollins, 2002.

Early Voices: Greg Hollingshead, Carol Shields, Aritha van Herk, and Rudy Wiebe. Co-editors T. L. Walters and James King. Juvenilia Press, 2001.

Jack, A Life with Writers: Jack: The Story of Jack McClelland. Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1999. [Chinese trans. 2001]

Telling Lives or Telling Lies?: Biography and Fiction. University of Lethbridge Press, 1997.

The Life of Margaret Laurence. Alfred A. Knopf Canada, 1997.

Virginia Woolf. Hamish Hamilton, 1994; W.W. Norton, 1995

William Blake: His Life. Weidenfeld & Nicolson and St Martin’s Press, 1991.

The Last Modern: A Life of Herbert Read. Weidenfeld & Nicolson and St Martin’s Press, 1990.

Interior Landscapes: A Life of Paul Nash. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987.

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper: Volume 5: Prose 1756-1798 and Cumulative Index. Co-editors James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford University Press, 1986.

William Cowper: A Biography. Durham: Duke University Press, 1986.

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper: Volume 4: Letters 1792-1799. Co-editors James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford University Press, 1984.

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper: Volume 3: Letters 1787-1791. Co-editors James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford University Press, 1983.

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper: Volume 2: Letters 1782-1786. Co-editors James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford University Press, 1981.

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper: Volume 1: Adelphi and Letters 1750-1781. Co-editors James King and Charles Ryskamp. Oxford University Press, 1979.

Novels:

   

Old Masters. Cormorant, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Étienne’s Alphabet. Cormorant, 2010.

 

 

 

 

 

Pure Inventions. Cormorant 2006.

Transformations. Cormorant 2003.

Blue Moon. Simon & Pierre, 2000.

Faking. Simon & Pierre, 1998. [trans. Faussaires (XYZ, 2001)]