Robert Service Biography


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Robert Service lived a rich, adventurous life. Born in Preston, Lancashire, England, on January 16, 1874, he spent most of his youth in Glasgow, Scotland, where he attended high school and later worked at the Commercial Bank of Scotland. As a young man, Service read voraciously and began to dream of adventure and travel. At age twenty-one, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to North America and traveled west to British Columbia. Like his contemporary Jack London, Service spent some time tramping up and down the West Coast of the United States. He then took a position with the Canadian Bank of Commerce. In 1904 the bank transferred him to the Yukon, where he acquired a rich vein of materials for his ballads and poems.

In 1907 Service published his first collection of poems, which included his most famous poems, "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee." Five years later, Service went to Europe as a correspondent for the Toronto Star to cover the Balkan War. In 1913 he married a French woman and settled in Paris, continuing to write poetry and fiction. During World War I, Service joined the American and the Canadian armies and wrote a collection of poems about the war.

In 1921, when a Hollywood producer purchased the rights to make a movie based on "The Shooting of Dan Mc-Grew," Service moved to Hollywood. The movie was released in 1924, the first of a number of adaptations of Service's work. Financial success enabled...

(The entire section is 282 words.)