Writing History


One of Canada’s best-known and most-honoured biographers turns to the raw material of his own life in Writing History. A university professor, prolific scholar, public intellectual, and frank critic of the world he has known, Michael Bliss draws on extensive personal diaries to describe a life that has taken him from small-town Ontario in the 1950s to international recognition for his books in Canadian and medical history. His memoir ranges remarkably widely: it encompasses social history, family tragedy, a critical insider’s view of university life, Canadian national politics, and, above all, a rare glimpse into the craftsmanship that goes into the research and writing of history in our time.

Whether writing about pigs and millionaires, the discovery of insulin, sleazy Canadian politicians, or the founders of modern medicine and brain surgery, Michael Bliss is noted for the clarity of his prose, the honesty of his opinions, and the breadth of his literary interests.


Weaving his private life, politics, social movements, university affairs and his professional career into a unified texture, supported by decades of journal writing where he vented and recorded his life, Bliss offers an engaging memoir, fast paced and well written and very hard to put down.

Literary Review of Canada (December, 2011)

…a readable, entertaining, and at times, surprising chronicle of the life (so far) of one of Canada’s best known academics.

University Affairs (December, 2011)

About the Author

Michael Bliss

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014
Michael Bliss photo

Michael Bliss

Michael Bliss, professor emeritus at the University of Toronto, wrote numerous books in the fields of Canadian politics, medicine, and business, including the Governor General’s Award–nominated Plague: A Story of Smallpox in Montreal and Sir William Osler: A Life in Medicine. He died in 2017.