Wayne Johnston - Biography

Wayne Johnston has emerged as one of the Atlantic region's most significant novelists. Johnston was born in 1958 and grew up in Goulds, just outside St. John’s, Newfoundland. As Johnston describes in his memoir Baltimore’s Mansion, his childhood was a somewhat peripatetic one, as his family moved from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in St. John’s. Johnson graduated with a B.A. from Memorial University and worked as a reporter for the St. John’s Daily News from 1979 to 1981. He then moved to Ottawa in 1981 and embarked on his career as a writer, subsequently receiving an M.A. in creative writing from the University of New Brunswick, in 1983. His thesis became his first novel, The Story of Bobby O’Malley (1985), which won the W.H. Smiths/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Johnston followed that debut up with The Time of Their Lives (1987), The Divine Ryans (1990) and Human Amusements (1994). The Divine Ryans won the Thomas Head Raddall Award and was made into a feature film starring Pete Postlethwaite and Mary Walsh. Johnston’s career took a distinct surge with the publication of his historical novel about Newfoundland premier Joey Smallwood, The Colony of Unrequited Dreams (1998), which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and won the Leacock Award for Humour. Baltimore’s Mansion was published in 1999. Johnston's 2002 novel The Navigator of New York (2002) centres on the rivalry between polar explorers Frederick Cook and Robert Peary. His novel The Custodian of Paradise (2006), tells more of the story of Sheilagh Fielding, one of the main characters from The Colony of Unrequited Dreams. Since 1989, Johnston has lived in Toronto.