David Beasley's meticulously researched books cover many subjects, from a history of
Upper Canada written as creative non-fiction, to biographies on a great Canadian writer,
a major Canadian actor, a painter and an art curator to a political-economic history of
the automobile. His years spent as a research librarian in one of the world's major
libraries [his book Beasley's Guide to Library Research is a "must" for researchers and
students] gave him the tools and the knowledge to dig deeply into subjects and produce
first class writing.




Episodes and Vignettes - Volume 1
An autobiography by David Richard Beasley

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $25.00 Cdn & US

Growing up in Hamilton, Ontario before and during World War II, David Beasley tells of his pioneer ancestry, family difficulties and early schooling with refreshing candor. His early friendships, for instance with John Munro, later a prominent Canadian politician, his near fatal accident which led to his love for literature, his work as caddy and bellhop at Jasper Lodge in theCanadian Rockies, a brief naval career, his leaving for Europe after graduating from McMaster University and his years in England, France, Spain (Ibiza), Italy and Austria make for fascinating reading as he develops his knowledge and writing skill. His life story is actually the story of his environment and associations which have an immediacy through his letters to his mother and friends as well as his notes from notebooks and journals. His friendships with artists, writers, bohemians, businessmen and actors affect him and his thinking as well as his reading and the cultural activities of London, Paris and Vienna. In Vienna he meets his true love, Viola, an Anglo-Burmese lady, and eventually, after finishing his teaching year and an adventure by donkey in Turkey by the Black Sea, he joins her in Manhattan. Their exchange of letters during their separation reveals the strength of their love. Viola's struggles in the bureaucracy of the United Nations echo the disappointments and frustrations that David meets in searching for publishers for his writing against the backdrop of a harsh city landscape with a frenetic pulse and intellectual vigor. David's introduction of his Burmese wife to a staid Canadian society is made successful by his welcoming mother and family. His teaching at a private school helps acclimatize him to American society while his close friendship with the artist Clay Spohn introduces him to the modern art world of which New York City has become the centre. Overcoming tragedy, Viola seeks consolation in work and finally in religion. Viola's letters tell the story of their lives at this point and her attempt to bring harmony to her Burmese family in south London, alienated in a foreign culture. Faced with the possibility of never finding a publisher and never making a living from writing, David wrenches himself away from his creativity to study for a profession. (Volume Two follows David in his profession and his work as a union leader to his success as an author and Viola who excels in university study, as few have, to become a Professor of English Literature. - See below)



Episodes and Vignettes - Volume 2
An autobiography by David Richard Beasley

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $25.00 Cdn & US

Volume Two of David Richard Beasley's Autobiography begins with his studies in librarianship, and continues with his work at the New York Public Research Libraries, his friendships with writers and artists, his union organizing and involvement in social causes. Much of the volume is told through Viola Beasley's letters recording their actions and thoughts and her worries about her Burmese parents in England as well as maintaining close connections with the Beasley family in Hamilton, Canada. Viola's unexpected transfer from international politics to university scholarship and David's determination to find publishers for his works give the reader emotional and educational pictures of a very human struggle. Their travels in Europe and North America recounted from their notebooks add color and adventure. David's affairs of the heart move like a sub-text through the story. Their successes are hard-won and lead to their move to Southern Ontario where tragedy strikes again - to be overcome with perseverance. The inspirations and sources for David's many books are brought to light in this engaging narrative which other struggling writers may find instructive.






From Bloody Beginnings
Richard Beasley's Upper Canada

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $20.00 Cdn & US

Richard Beasley narrates from when he is five years old in 1766 as witness to the tenant rebellions in New York State followed by the American Revolution when his father Henry Beasley and Uncle Richard Cartwright in Albany, New York, risk their lives through the horrors of the civil war for the loyalist forces. Richard Beasley becomes a commissary at Fort Niagara, from which he observes the war out of Niagara featuring his cousin Richard Cartwright Jr,, secretary to Major John Butler of Butler's Rangers, Chief Joseph Brant and Ensign Walter Butler while he continues his fur-trading at Toronto and the Head-of-the- Lake Ontario. After the war, his land dealings, merchant business and association in trade with Richard Cartwright Jr and Robert Hamilton, his arguments on the settlers' behalf in the legislature where he was speaker of the Assembly, and his involvement as agent in the German land companies in Markham and Waterloo Counties, particularly during the Aaron Burr conspiracy with the French to retake Canada, make him suspect to the oligarchy in York, later Toronto. As magistrate and organizer of the militia in West York he takes on several roles during the War of 1812. The battles in the Niagara Peninsula, which involve the 2nd York Regiment of which he is Colonel, he describes in detail.

As his intellectual cousin Richard Cartwright becomes more conservative and prominent, Richard Beasley grows more liberal. His correspondence with the famous defender of civil liberties Lord Erskine, his work for a free press, his championing of the reforms of Robert Gourlay and his friendship as a moderate reformer with William Lyon Mackenzie continue the political themes introduced earlier in the book. He manages to overturn the judgment of a military tribunal set up to ruin him by his powerful enemies, including Reverend Strachan and Col. William Claus, for his political views. He relates the economic blights, the pastimes, the joys and sorrows of the settlers with particular emphasis on affairs at the Headof-the-Lake, which, with his help, becomes Hamilton, a county capital. He gives us interesting details of the Upper Canada Rebellion and shows that many among the Upper Canadian community sympathized with it. In his last stint in the Assembly he does much for the establishment of civil rights and works with his one-time conservative opponent John Beverley Robinson for the country's benefit before the uniting of the provinces in the Act of Union of 1841.

RICHARD BEASLEY gives us a personal, continuous and dramatic picture of our history and the characters that made it. Richard died in 1842.

SOURCES FOR THE BOOK - In a .PDF format file - Click Here





The Watercolours of Charlotte Hills Beasley
Introduction by David R. Beasley, Commentary by Jim Cruise

Watercolours Publlisher: Davus publishing
ISBN: IS 0-915317-14-1
PRICE: $90.00 Cdn & US

These watercolours of flowers, floral arrangements, and insects were painted between 1879 and 1882. They were pasted into a Scrapbook that was rescued by James E. A. Beasley on a pile of objects being auctioned from the estate of Annie Rice Davis Beasley in Hamilton, Ontario in 1938. The Scrapbook lay in a cedar trunk for years in the upstairs room over a garage at "The Pines", the Beasley country home on New Street, Burlington and came into the possession of David Beasley, who delighted in the artistry and beautiful colours of the paintings. They were painted by C.H.B., Charlotte Hills Beasley.

Click here for the full write-up
and book review



Understanding Modern Art
The boundless spirit of Clay Edgar Spohn

Author: David R. Beasley
ISBN: 0-915317-10-9
PRICE: $10.00 Cdn & US

9X11.5 160p. 154 illus. 74 in color, Soft cover.

San Francisco artist Clay Spohn (1898--1977), one of the best artists of the modern era, originated art movements of the twentieth century and painted with great beauty. Using Spohn's Notebooks, David Beasley has traced his thought and career. This book is amply illustrated with Spohn's drawings and paintings placed to elucidate the text. Many paintings are in color as Spohn used color superbly. "I consider David Beasley's monograph on the work of Clay Spohn one of the most moving documents I have read on an artist, revealing a compassion and sense of justice rarely encountered in the field of aesthetics," - John Hultberg, artist. " Although little has been written about him, Spohn was among the most influential artists of his generation," - Susan Landauer, Art Historian.

Spohn’s, The Ballet of the Elements (front cover). The San Francisco art critic, Tom Albright described this painting exhibited with the best works of West Coast painters including Mark Rothko and Clyfford Still in 1973: "[the painting] with its stripe-like allusions to landscape under a ‘sky’ of fluid, shorthand squiggles, is altogether unique in this context (i.e. the projection still of the fervor, the desperation, the iconoclasm and ethical commitment etc. that went into them) and perhaps for that reason stands out as the exhibition’s most monumental single masterpiece."



Douglas MacAgy
and the Foundations of
Modern Art Curatorship

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $10.00 Cdn & US

8 x 9 in. 168 pages with 33 black/white illustrations. Soft cover.

Canadian born, MacAgy was international in his influence. From a privileged student at the Barnes Foundation through innovative years at the San Francisco Museum of Art, as Director at the California School of Fine Arts from 1945-50, when he was the catalyst for the advent of American abstraction, as curator at MOMA, as the spirit behind the modern art movement in Dallas, as the introducer and interpreter of European and Russian art to America, as the head of the National Endowment for the Arts, and as the installer of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, MacAgy taught the public and helped to shape our culture. MacAgy changed museums from mausoleums to happenings. He was on the cutting edge of modern art movements from American abstract expressionism to conceptualism and fought as an independent educator against the forces using art for political ends. His friends were the great artists of his day, including those as diverse as Clyfford Still and Marcel Duchamp. Only his first wife Jermayne rivaled him as an installer of art. "Douglas MacAgy will be remembered as someone bigger than the institution he so often invigorated. For he was one of those whose sensibilities were more for the artist than for the director."-R. Grove, 1973. "MacAgy has a place in history,"- George Rickey. "I consider him to be one of the great moving influences in art during the 20th century."- Elizabeth Blake, 1989. This book is awarded each year in San Francisco to the winner of the Douglas MacAgy Award for the greatest contribution to the arts.

Click here to view an essay about Douglas Macagy, written by David Beasley






The Canadian Don Quixote
The life and works of Major John Richardson
Canada's first novelist

See also RICHARDSON'S WORKS for more

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $14.95 Cdn & US


Return of a classic!

A nice combination of Canadian history, romantic biography, and literary research, the book is not only a good read but includes a bibliography, index and other material. Actually it is a roaring good adventure yarn about a highly eccentric dreamer and author of gothic novels. A major entry this year.
Library Journal (New York).

The life of John Richardson reads like one of his novels. David Beasley does justice to this Richardson, and what a story The Canadian Don Quixote is! Army service, gambling, duels everywhere, a happy marriage, constant litigation, and constant writing 'even this summary only begins to highlight the rich vitality of John Richardson's 56 years.
(The London Free Press (London, Ont).

If his life is a dream David Beasley has anchored it very firmly in the social reality of the time.... His whole work teems with such careful, loving research and this makes his biography of Richardson not only a good read but the fulfillment of what's usually called 'an aching void'
James Reaney, Brick (Toronto).

Highly praised - A must read - Read all the reviews here

For information on military matters of the nineteenth century contemporaneous
with Major Richardson's military career researched and published by A.W. Cockerill,






The role of memory in the poetry
of Alfred Lord Tennyson

Author: Violet E. Beasley
ISBN: 978-0-915317-35-6
PRICE: $16.95 Cdn & US

Tennyson is, above all, a supreme artist. His poems reveal the meticulous care of his craftsmanship and skilled exploitation of his talents as artist, including his melancholic temperament and strong sense of the past. While many critics have furnished clues about Tennyson's preference for the past, they have not, except for a few, focused on his pervasive use of memory as a means of evoking the past or on the kind of pleasure he receives from it; for characteristic of Tennyson's poetic use of the past is his evocation of memory. The few critics who have recognized Tennyson's poetic interest in memory, however, have not explored fully its significant function in his poetry. The chief importance of memory in Tennyson's poetry is that, through it, he presents his diverse themes in a variety of ways. By analyzing his use of memory in his poetry, therefore, this study attempts to show Tennyson as the abiding experimentalist in the use of the poetic memory.

The poems discussed in this book comprise selections from his earliest volumes and Poems (1842), In Memoriam, Maud, and Idylls of the King. They are chosen not only for their rich illustrative variety in the use of memory but also because they span the whole of his poetic career and, therefore, attest to his consistent concern with memory. Furthermore, through the examination of memory in his poetry we arrive at a deeper understanding of his poems' meaning and come to appreciate better his supreme skill as artist.







Please see eBooks

Through Paphlagonia with a donkey
An adventure in the Turkish Isfendyars

Author: David R. Beasley
ISBN: 0-915317-00-1
PRICE: $5.00 Cdn & US

Today when travel has become impersonal, we find in this book a personal account. Here are fresh and highly individualistic impressions of the Turkish people living in the wilderness of the Isfendyar Mountains on the coast of the Black Sea. Starting in complete ignorance and with no preconceptions David Beasley and through him the reader experience the warmth, generosity and touching enthusiasm of the Turks for contact with a foreigner. Through Paphlagonia With A Donkey is an awakening of a Westerner to an Eastern culture on the one hand, and an amusing, sometimes sympathetic appreciation of the independent personality of the donkey, Bobby, on the other.

"One hundred times better than Steinbeck's Travels with Charley."
William Reuben, journalist and author

Note: This book is now out of print, but can be purchased in electronic format
from our eBook page







Beasley's Guide to Library Research
navigating the complex labyrinth of library research

Author: David R. Beasley
Cloth - ISBN: 0-8020-4782-3
Paper - ISBN: 0-8020-8328-5

This item is only available from
The University of Toronto Press (Phone: 1.800.565.9523 Fax: 1.800.221.9985)
or from their website at

Beasley's Guide to Library Research (University of Toronto Press: 2000). "Suitable for novice and experienced researcher alike, this revised classic is an invaluable tool for locating and using materials from research libraries anywhere in the world." "This book is ideal - in size, price, scope, and content - for a first course in 'fact finding' at either undergraduate or graduate levels."
Gerald M. Gee, Florida A&M University.

"Beasley writes clearly; he includes useful information on the many services of research libraries; and he communicates well the excitement of conducting research at a major library.
Library Journal

"I recently came across your book. It so impressed me that I purchased several copies for my firm's own library and have recommended it to our entire research staff."
Thomas Fedorek, Director, Research Services, Kroll Associates







McKee Rankin and the
Heyday of the American Theatre

Author: David R. Beasley
PRICE: $10.00 Cdn & US

"The book is an impeccable piece of research, full and accurate. It gives a comprehensive view of the American (and Canadian and Australian) stage for a period of over 50 years. It documents life on tour, in stock and combination companies, in vaudeville and even in the nascent movie industry. It is a saga of art versus commerce and of the shifting sands of public taste. It is a treasure trove of minutiae, filled with details on unknown plays and vanished theatres, and on the actors who performed those plays, and the managers who owned those theatres. Above all the book is a testament to McKee Rankin and to the members of his companies, especially his wife Kitty and his protegè Nance, who were some of the brightest stars of the American theatre......"
Theater historian, Publisher's reader.

A FREE document listing all of Rankin's performances and the role played is available here in PDF or MicroSoft Word format. "Rankin's Roles" comprises every role Rankin played with play and theatre from 1860 to 1914.

RankinsRoles.pdf       RankinsRoles.doc       Index to the endnotes.pdf

Adobe AcrobatPlease Note: In order to view the .pdf document you must have
Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer
(available FREE from








Who really invented the automobile?
Skulduggery at the crossroads

Author: David R. Beasley
ISBN: 0-915317-08-7
PRICE: $17.95 Cdn & US

The automobile was perfected in 1829 and ran well on English roads. Who prevented its development? Was it the railway entrepreneurs? Was it the landed interests? Was it the free-traders? The same interests prevented its development in Europe and in America. Beasley takes you from the beginning through these various factions into the railway and banking conflicts to the 1890's when the automobile is allowed to develop in France. Why was it developed as the petroleum car and why was the steam car discouraged? Along the way Beasley demonstrates a unique theory of invention.

"It seems clear that 'non-economic forces' were very important in the early history of the automobile." - Journal of Economic Literature

For political-economic articles, contemporary and historical,
that give a broader perspective on technological advancement,
see under Publications and Papers at






A collection of pamphlets of talks given by David Richard Beasley
on Richard Beasley, first settler at the Head-of-the-Lake (Ontario)

Richard Beasley; the Character of the Man and his Times
Richard Beasley and the German Companies
Richard Beasley and Early Days on Burlington Heights The Political Education of Richard Beasley Dissension and the Battle of Lundy's Lane
Brock at Burlington Heights
Talk on Richard Beasley: on the dedication of the UEL plaque
Sources for From Bloody Beginnings: Richard Beasley's Upper Canada

Author: David R. Beasley
ISBN: 978-0-915317-60-8
Paper: $5.50 Cdn & US

This item is not available through Paypal
but can be ordered from Davus Publishing, with $1.25 postage
or from some retailers found on our Where to buy page

"Richard Beasley; the Character of the Man and his Times", "Richard Beasley and the German Companies", "Richard Beasley and Early Days on Burlington Heights" and "The Political Education of Richard Beasley" were talks printed in separate pamphlets. "Dissension and the Battle of Lundy's Lane". "Brock at Burlington Heights" and "Talk on Richard Beasley" were talks assigned under Essays on the website "Sources for From Bloody Beginnings; Richard Beasley's Upper Canada" was also put under Essays on the website. I include these last four items in this collection to preserve them. "Sources" was not included in the book From Bloody Beginnings because it was written in novel form, although it was straight history which I call creative nonfiction.

The illustration of Richard Beasley's house on Burlington Height on the cover of "Richard Beasley: the Character of the Man...." was imagined from a description in the Niagara Constitution when it was advertised for sale in 1799. Sophia Beasley Springer, daughter of Henry Beasley, the first son of Richard, was interviewed by the Toronto Daily Star [Saturday, May 14, 1927]. She verified a claim by others that the front door of the house was kept by Allan MacNab when he built his Dundurn Castle on its foundations, which meant that the imagined illustration was wrong because the door is much larger than pictured. She also mentioned that Captain J. B. Dennis, her uncle, who had superintended the burial of General Isaac Brock, said that the front wall of the Beasley house was incorporated into the castle. The house must have been grander than imagined.

Sophia relayed another interesting assertion by Dennis - that it was Richard Beasley who separated Isaac Brant from his father Joseph in their famous confrontation in Beasley's Inn. My interest in Sophia came about when I wrote Spiral, a novel that included her character in events concerning the Beasley family in the mid-nineteenth century.




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