James King, PhD

James King

Professor of English
Location: Chester New Hall, Room 316
Phone: 905 525 9140 ext. 24493
E-mail: jking@mcmaster.ca


  • Research
  • Profile
  • In the News

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

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. King has won numerous honours: The Yorkshire Post Arts Award: given for 'the finest book devoted to art history published during 1987, awarded for Interior Landscape; a Finalist for the Governor General's prize for non-fiction (The Last Modern) 1991; Elected to the Royal Society of Canada 1993; Virginia Woolf selected one of the best non-fiction books published in the United States during 1995 by Publishers Weekly and Best Book, Hamilton & Region Arts Council [given to the Penguin edition] 1995; The Life of Margaret Laurence: finalist for CBA Non-Fiction Book of the Year, 1997, National Bestseller; Vintage Canada , 1997, and Literary Award for 1997 for Non Fiction Book, Hamilton & Region Arts Council. His novel Étienne's Alphabet (2010, Cormorant) was finalist for the Toronto Book Award.

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

Old Masters (a novel) was published by Cormorant in the autumn of 2014. This book was shortlisted for the Trillium prize. 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.

Inward Places, his biography of the Canadian modernist artist David Milne, was published in the autumn of 2015. This book won the Hamilton Literary Award for non-fiction.

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.

King Cover

Japanese Warrior Prints 1646-1905

James King

Yuriko Lwakiri

Japanese Warrior Prints 1646–1905 is the first publication in the English language devoted entirely to the most neglected of the major genres in the history of Ukiyo-e: musha-e or images of warriors. These works recreate in vivid detail the tales of great heroes and battles of Japanese history, especially from the tenth through sixteenth centuries. The publication is divided into two parts. The first is an ‘Introduction’ to the genre of musha-e, including a discussion of the evolution of the genre and the various influences that came to play on its development. The second comprises a ‘Catalogue’ of over 200 full-colour illustrations dating from the mid-seventeenth to twentieth centuries which have been grouped into sixteen subject categories.