Famous People Who Have Met Me
The Life and Interviews of R.E. Knowles

Edited with an introduction by Jean O’Grady

The life of Canadian novelist and Toronto Star interviewer R.E.Knowles (1868-1946), follwed by a selection of 35 of his interviews which provide a panorama of life in the inter-war years.

Excerpt from an interview with Agnes Macphail:

“Do you think, Miss Macphail, that it is possible, or easy, for a woman to go into political life, and yet keep radiant and untarnished the inner shine of a woman's modesty, delicacy, sensitiveness, exclusiveness?”

Miss Macphail listened patiently to this question, which does sound a little like a bill of lading. “I surely do,” was her reply: “public life broadens, not blunts, a woman's make-up.”...

“Do you think your presence in parliament goes far to temper the asperities of political life?”

“Not much”, replied candid Agnes. “I'm not much on tempering. I'm no gulf stream in the cold ocean of political life.”


“R.E. Knowles is a character of the kind no longer to be found in the newspaper world. A former Presbyterian minister in Galt, Ontario, and a bestselling novelist in his day, he launched a new career in mid-life as a "special writer" for The Toronto Star. I was first led to work on Knowles when Bill Toye asked me to write the entry on his novels for the Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature., It soon became apparent that here was a rare bird—at once self-promoter, joker and earnest seeker after truth—who was in danger of being forgotten.

He loved famous people and celebrities, and he considered himself to be the equal of many of the men and women he interviewed for articles that appeared on the front page of the Star between 1920 to 1940. His self-indulgent copy was often the talk of the town. Newspaper readers enjoyed reading Knowles's high opinions of himself as much as they did the opinions and views of his interviewees.

The results of my researches into his life and ideas are set out in the introduction to this volume; the remainder consists of 35 interviews, a description of his seven novels, and a list of some 1500 of his interviews, which may be useful to other researchers. Knowles' interviews are a treasury of information on interwar culture and social history, besides being fun to read for anyone who enjoys exploring the byways of Toronto’s and Canada’s past.”
- Jean O'Grady

Interviews include:

Performing artists:

Harry Lauder, Edward Johnson, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Mary Pickford, Arthur Rubinstein, Fritz Kreisler

Intellectuals and leaders:

William Jennings Bryan, John Scopes, Father Coughlin, Aimee Semple McPherson, Albert Einstein, Alfred Adler

Political personalities:

Ramsay MacDonald, Tom Mann, Agnes Macphail, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Arthur Meighen, Marcus Garvey

Sports figures:

Walter Hagen, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, H.O.D. Segrave, Eric Liddell, George Young

Literary figures:

W.B. Yeats, Marshall Saunders, Grey Owl, H.L. Mencken, Thomas Mann

Public figures:

Henry Ford, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, Theodore Loblaw, Elizabeth Arden, Harry McGee, Earl of Egmont

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