Gwyn is one of Canada’s best-known and most highly-regarded political columnists. He is also the author of seven best-selling books and the winner of multiple awards.
Born in England, Gwyn studied at Stonyhust College and at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He emigrated to Canada in 1953.
Gwyn has been a journalist since 1953, but for the period 1968-73 when he was Executive Assistant to Communications Minister the Hon. Eric Kierans, and later a Director-General in that department.
In 1973, Gwyn became the Toronto Star's national affairs columnist based in Ottawa. His thrice-weekly columns were syndicated to 26 newspapers, and in a survey his Parliamentary Press Gallery colleagues judged him overwhelmingly as the Canada’s most influential political columnist.
In 1985, Gwyn moved to London as The Star’s international affairs columnist, writing about the end of the Cold War, the Fall of the Wall, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the intifada in Palestine and the Gulf War.
In 1992, Gwyn returned to Canada to write a Home and Away column about both international and national affairs. He continues to write one column a fortnight for The Star.
During these years, Gwyn was a frequent commentator on CBC tv and radio. He was also a regular on TVO’s highly-praised weekly program on international affairs, Diplomatic Immunity.
He is the winner of two National Newspaper Awards and of a National Magazine Award and of five citations for merit.
Gwyn is the author of seven books, all highly-praised and all best-sellers. His first six were:
The Shape of Scandal; A Study of a Government in Crisis (1965).
Smallwood; The Unlikely Revolutionary (1969); revised editions, 1972, 1996).
The Northern Magus; Pierre Trudeau and Canadians, (1980).
The 49th Paradox; Canada in North America (1985).
Nationalism Without Walls; The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian (1995).
John A, The Man Who Made Us: The Life and Times of John A. Macdonald
Vol. One: 1815-1867
Among comments on his works: “perhaps our best political journalist” (Dalton Camp); “a masterpiece of political reporting” (Saturday Night Magazine); “the best book I have ever read on a Canadian politician” (Charles Lynch). Two of his phrases, "The Northern Magus" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being Canadian" have become part of the Canadian political vocabulary.
His seventh book, Nation-Maker, the story of Macdonald’s post-Confederation years, 1867-1891, was published by Random-House in September, 2011.
In 2002, Richard Gwyn was named an Officer of the Order of Canada. From 2002 to 2007, he was Chancellor of St. Jerome’s University at the University of Waterloo. He is the recipient of five honorary degrees.
Gwyn lives in Toronto with his wife Carol Bishop-Gwyn, herself a writer. They spend their summers in Newfoundland and manage the annual Winterset Award for Newfoundland writing established to commemorate Gwyn’s first wife, Sandra Fraser Gwyn.