1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Parker, Sir Gilbert

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PARKER, SIR GILBERT (1862- ), British novelist and politician, was born at Camden East, Addington, Ontario, on the 23rd of November 1862, the son of Captain J. Parker, R.A. He was educated at Ottawa and at Trinity University, Toronto. In 1886 he went to Australia, and became for a while associate-editor of the Sydney Morning Herald. He also travelled extensively in the Pacific, and subsequently in northern Canada; and in the early 'nineties he began to make a growing reputation in London as a writer of romantic fiction. The best of his novels are those in which he first took for his subject the history and life of the French Canadians; and his permanent literary reputation rests on the fine quality, descriptive and dramatic, of his Canadian stories. Pierre and his People (1892) was followed by Mrs Falchion (1893), The Trail of the Sword (1894), When Valmond came to Pontiac (1895), An Adventurer of the North (1895), and The Seats of the Mighty (1896, dramatized in 1897). The Lane that had no Turning (1900) contains some of his best work. In The Battle of the Strong (1898) he broke new ground, laying his scene in the Channel Islands. His chief later books were The Right of Way (1901), Donovan Pasha (1902), The Ladder of Swords (1904), The Weavers (1907) and Northern Lights (1909). In 1895 he married Miss Van Tine of New York, a wealthy heiress. His Canadian connexion and his experience in Australia and elsewhere had made him a strong Imperialist in politics, and from that time he began to devote himself in large measure to a political career. He still kept up his literary work, but some of the books last mentioned cannot compare with those by which he made his name. He was elected to parliament in 1900 (re-elected 1906 and 1910) as Conservative member for Gravesend and soon made his mark in the House of Commons. He was knighted in 1902, and in succeeding years continually strengthened his position in the party, particularly by his energetic work on behalf of Tariff Reform and Imperial Preference. If he had given up to public life what at one time seemed to be due to literature, he gave it for enthusiasm in the Imperialist movement; and with the progress of that cause he came to rank by 1910 as one of the foremost men in the Unionist party outside those who had held office.