The reading of MacKenzie King
Bedore, Margaret Elizabeth
MacKenzie King, William Lyon , Reading
This study observes Mackenzie King as a reader. By examining the marginalia in the books preserved in his library and his responses to that reading recorded in his diary and correspondence, this study shows that King was a critical user of texts and that he worked all his life to improve himself. King habitually read for information and inspiration; he sought to perfect the mind, the body and the soul. Three case studies trace out important phases in King’s development. King learned from reading political biography and, in particular, he studied the life of Gladstone to prepare himself for the role of prime minister. He found in the psychology of William James new ways to achieve psychic health; he enlarged his outlook and deepened and broadened his faith. In a final phase, King turned to the reading of spiritualism which complemented his Christian idealism and provided solace to a lonely man. The newly opened files on spiritualism at the National Archives reveal King to be a man who seriously explored psychical research. Reading was an important part of King’s life; it informed his politics and it shaped his religion.