by George J. Dance

Ronald Hambleton

Ronald Hambleton. Courtesy The EngSoc Project.

Ronald Hambleton
Born 1917
Preston, Lancashire, U.K.
Died April 10, 2015
Occupation freelance writer
Ethnicity English
Citizenship Canada Canadian
Education high school dropout
Notable work(s) Unit of Five, 1944

Ronald Hambleton (1917 - April 10, 2015) was a Canadian poet and freelance writer.[1] He is best known in Canadian poetry circles for editing the 1944 poetry anthology Unit of Five, which was the earliest publication in book form for Louis Dudek, P.K. Page, and Raymond Souster.



Hambleton in 1941. Sketch by Jack Nichols (1921-2009). Courtesy The EngSoc Project.


Hambleton in 2009. Photo by G. Ashford. Courtesy The EngSoc Project.

Hambleton was born in Preston, Lancashire, England. His family came to Canada when he was 7 years old, and settled in Vancouver.[2]

During the Depression, Hambleton had to leave school in his mid-teens to help support his family. He worked as an office boy in a law firm, then as a shipper for a wholesale clothing jobber, and then as a Customs & Excise messenger.[2]

In his spare time Hambleton became involved in a Little Theatre group, and began to write. His first published poem was in the "Daily Poem" feature of the Vancouver Sun.[2]

In 1944 Hambleton edited the anthology of modernist poetry, Unit of Five, where his poems appeared alongside poetry by Dudek, Page, Souster, and James Wreford.[3]

Hambleton was one of the first Canadian writers to travel to Europe after World War II to interview noted authors and musicians.[2]

Hambleton published 11 books, ranging from novels to verse to biography, and from true crime to classical legend. He published reportage and fiction in newspapers and magazines in both Canada and the United Kingdom. He was a columnist for Marketing magazine for 5 years, and music reviewer for the Toronto Star for 30 years.[2] His writing also appeared in Maclean’s, Saturday Night, and the Globe & Mail.[1]

In the broadcast media, Hambleton's work includes radio scripts, TV plays and documentaries. He created 14 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) series, including a 13-week series to mark the CBC's 25th anniversary. His documentaries include a television special celebrating Igor Stravinsky's 80th birthday).[2]

He was married to Jean Hambleton for 73 years. The couple had 5 children, including CBC editor Paul Hambleton and songwriter Fergus Hambleton.[1]

He died in a retirement home in Toronto, aged 97.[1]


Northrop Frye, reviewing Unit of Five: "Dudek and Hambleton are both very good, often startlingly good. My preference for Dudek may be only a matter of taste; in Hambleton, certain mannerisms which he shares with a group of post-Eliot English poets make his work sound more derivative. Chief among these are a highly developed faculty of allusion, a pleasure in digesting the long words which are difficult to digest in poetry (known in the trade as 'aureate diction'), and an intellectual-colloquial sputter deriving ultimately from Donne."[3]



  • Unit of Five: Louis Dudek, Ronald Hambleton, P.K. Page, Raymond Souster, James Wreford. (edited by Ronald Hambleton). Toronto: Ryerson, 1944.
  • Object & Event. Toronto: Ryerson, 1953
  • Verse of all sorts: Light dark & wry. Thornhill, ON: Green Bushell, 1995.


  • Every Man is an Island. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1959;[4] London: Hutchinson, 1959.
  • There Goes MacGill. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1962; London: Hutchinson, 1962.
  • The Love & Death of Orpheus. Green Bushell, Toronto, 1979.
  • The Masque of Orpheus. unpublished novel.[5]
  • The Veiled Murderess. unpublished novel.[5]


  • Mazo de la Roche of Jalna. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1966; Toronto: General Publishing, 1966.
  • The Secret of Jalna. Don Mills, ON: Paperjacks, 1972.
  • How I Earned $250K as a Free Lance Writer: Even if it did take 30 years! Toronto: Green Bushell, 1977.
  • A Master Killing. Toronto: Green Bushell, 1978.
  • The Branding of America: From Levi Strauss to Chrysler, from Westinghouse to Gillette, the forgotten fathers of America's best-known brand names. Dublin, NH: Yankee Books, 1987.
    • 12 excerpts published under the same title by Tokyo: Kaibunsha Ltd.[4]

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

See alsoEdit




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Daniel Otis, "Veteran writer Ronald Hambleton dies at 97, Toronto Star, April 16, 2015. Web, Apr. 10, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 "Ronald Hambleton: Sixty-five Years of Freelance Writing,", Web, June 2, 2011.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Northrop Frye, Northrop Frye on Canada: Volume 12 (edited by Jean O'Grady & David Staines). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003, 44-46. Google Books, Web, Sep. 6, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Ronald Hambleton: Published Books,", Web, June 2, 2011.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Hambleton (Ron) papers," Fisher Collections, Library,, Web, June 2, 2011.
  6. Search results = au:Ronald Hambleton, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Libary Center Inc. Web, Sep. 6, 2014.

External linksEdit

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