Stephen Leacock (1869–1944) was born in Hampshire, England, but grew up in a small town in Ontario, one of eleven children. He studied with Thorstein Veblen at the University of Chicago and later taught in the Department of Economics and Political Science at McGill University. In 1906, he composed a textbook, Elements of Political Science,
which was used throughout the world, and in 1910 the publication of Literary Lapses,
a collection of humorous magazine pieces, brought him fame as a comic author. Thereafter, Leacock wrote prolifically, gaining international popularity with such works as Nonsense Novels
(1911), Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town
(1912), and Arcadian Adventures with the Idle Rich
(1914), as well as biographies of his literary heroes, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. An ardent imperialist and nationalist, Leacock was in great demand as a speaker, undertaking an international tour for the Rhodes Trust in 1907 and 1908 and a Canadian tour to promote national unity in 1936. During his life he was awarded the Mark Twain Medal and the Lorne Pierce Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, among many other prizes. The Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour has been awarded annually since 1947.