Dr. John Ralston Saul -
Born in Ottawa, Saul studied at McGill University in Montreal, Canada and at King's College London where he wrote his thesis on the modernization of France under Charles de Gaulle, and earned his Ph.D in 1972. After helping to set up the national oil company Petro-Canada in 1976, as Assistant to its first Chair, Maurice F. Strong, he published his first novel The Birds of Prey in 1977. Through the late 1970s and 1980s, he travelled regularly with guerrilla armies, spending a great deal of time in North Africa and South East Asia. Out of this time came his novels, The Field Trilogy. It was during those extended periods in Northwest Africa and Southeast Asia that he witnessed fellow writers there suffering government suppression of freedom of expression, which caused him to become interested in the work of PEN International. In 2009 he was elected president of PEN International, only the second North American to hold the position since its creation in 1921, the other being Arthur Miller.
John Ralston Saul is co-Chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, which encourages new Canadians to become active citizens. He is Patron and former president of the Canadian Centre of PEN International. He is also Founder and Honorary Chair of French for the Future, which encourages bilingual French-English education, Chair of the Advisory Board for the LaFontaine-Baldwin Symposium lecture series, and a Patron of Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN — a cutting edge organization tied to people with disabilities). A Companion in the Order of Canada (1999), he is also Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France (1996). His 17 honorary degrees range from McGill University and the University of Ottawa to Herzen University in Saint Petersburg, Russia. From 1999 until 2006 when his wife Adrienne Clarkson was Governor General of Canada he was Canada's vice-regal consort, during which he devoted much of his time to issues of freedom of expression, poverty, public education and bilingualism.