Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Robert Service

Robert William Service (January 16, 1874 - September 11, 1958) was an England-born Canadian poet. Born in Preston, he gave up his job working in a Glasgow bank and at the age of 21 moved to Canada with his Buffalo Bill outfit and dreams of becoming a cowboy. Ten years later, he was working in a bank in Whitehorse, Yukon.

Service became known for his work about the West, and the Yukon gold miners. Such works as "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" made him famous. After having collected enough poems for a book, Service offered a publisher $100 of his own money to publish the work, but the publisher was so sure that the works would be popular (he had already taken 1700 offers for sale off the galley proofs), he returned Service's money and offered him a contract.

When The Songs of a Sourdough came out in 1907, Service became rich. He became known as the "Canadian Kipling". Within two years he was able to quit his job at the bank, and to travel -- to Paris, the French Riviera, to Hollywood, and beyond. From 1912 to 1913 he was a correspondent for the Toronto Star during the Balkan Wars. During World War I he was an ambulance driver.

Service wrote two volumes of autobiography - Ploughman of the Moon and Harper of Heaven. He died in Lancieux, France.