Robert Service: Under the Spell of the Yukon

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Heritage House, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 238 pages
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Dressed in cowboy garb acquired in a Scottish auction room, a naive but committed young Robert Service stepped off the CPR train in Vancouver, sustained only by his sense of adventure. Sixteen years later, he would leave Canada as the author of the most commercially successful poems written in the 20th century. Service's time in the Yukon, at first as a transplanted bank clerk and later living off the royalties of poems like "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee", is the core of a fascinating life. Starving in Mexico, residing in a California bordello, farming on Vancouver Island and pursuing unrequited love in Vancouver were only preludes to his Yukon years and his first poems. Words were Robert Service's lifelong passion, and he set them on many stages. But it was his McGrew, McGee and other players of the Great White North who glittered with a golden glow and forever made him the "Bard of the Yukon" and the de facto poet laureate of Alaska. This book sheds light on aspects of Service's life that have been sketchily covered by other biographers, focusing on his years in Canada and the western U.S. 2006 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of "Songs of a Sourdough", which sold over three million copies and was the most successful poetry book of the 20th century.

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The Yukon Years
After the Yukon
Family of Robert Service Sr and Emily Parker

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About the author (2006)

Enid Swerdfeger Mallory grew up near the St. Lawrence River and saw the ghosts of Canadian history passing by. She attended Queen's University, became a social worker, then a librarian, but always a writer. Her previous books include Coppermine: The Far North of George M. Douglas and Robert Service: Under the Spell of the Yukon. She lives in Peterborough, Ontario.

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