Timothy Findley

Timothy Irving Frederick Findley was a Canadian author and playwright. He was born in Toronto to upper-class parents, Margaret Maude Bull and Allan Gilmour Findley, a stockbroker. He attended St. Andrew’s College, a boarding school, until the 10th grade when he left for health reasons. He studied dance and acting before turning to writing.

One of three sons, Findley was born in Toronto, Ontario, to Allan Gilmour Findley, a stockbroker, and his wife, the former Margaret Maude Bull. His paternal grandfather was president of Massey-Harris, the farm-machinery company. He was raised in the upper class Rosedale district of the city,[ attending boarding school at St. Andrew’s College (although leaving during grade 10 for health reasons). He pursued a career in the arts, studying dance and acting, and had significant success as an actor before turning to writing. He was part of the original Stratford Festival company in the 1950s, acting alongside Alec Guinness, and appeared in the first production of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker at the Edinburgh Festival. He also played Peter Pupkin in Sunshine Sketches, the CBC Television adaptation of Stephen Leacock’s Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.

Though Findley had declared his homosexuality as a teenager, he married actress/photographer Janet Reid in 1959, but the union lasted only three months and was dissolved by divorce or annulment two years later. Eventually he became the domestic partner of writer Bill Whitehead, whom he met in 1962. Findley and Whitehead also collaborated on several documentary projects in the 1970s, including the television miniseries The National Dream and Dieppe 1942.

Books in order of publication:


  • The Last of the Crazy People (1967)
  • The Butterfly Plague (1969)
  • The Wars (1977)
  • Famous Last Words (1981)
  • Not Wanted on the Voyage (1984)
  • The Telling of Lies (1986) (Edgar Award, Best Paperback Original, 1989)
  • Headhunter (1993)
  • The Piano Man’s Daughter (1995)
  • Pilgrim (1999)
  • Spadework (2001)


  • You Went Away (1996)

Short story collections

  • Dinner Along the Amazon (1984)
  • Stones (1988)
  • Dust to Dust (1997)


  • The Paper People (1967)
  • Don’t Let the Angels Fall (1969)
  • The Whiteoaks of Jalna (1972)
  • The Newcomers (1977)
  • Can You See Me Yet? (1977)
  • The Stillborn Lover (1993)
  • The Trials of Ezra Pound (2000)
  • Elizabeth Rex (2001)
  • Shadows (2001)

Documentary film

  • The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway (1974)
  • Dieppe 1942 (1979)


  • Inside Memory: Pages from a Writer’s Workbook (1990)
  • From Stone Orchard (1998)
  • Journeyman: Travels of a Writer (2003)
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