With the cold winter months upon us what better time is there to curl up with a good book? There are many great biographies of Sir Frederick Banting available. I thought I would share two of my favourites to add to your “to read” list.
In terms of biographies on Banting the one I keep returning to is Banting A Biography by Michael Bliss. This book was originally published in 1984 with a second edition being released in 1992. The second-edition includes an interesting foreword about why Bliss decided to write this biography and the difficulties he faced in the research process. Bliss chronicles the full life of Banting giving space to often overlooked themes such as his childhood, romantic relationships, and life as an artist. He also vividly details the discovery of insulin and its direct impact on Banting’s everyday life. The book includes a series of amazing photos in the centre-fold which make the narrative come to life. If you are looking for an engaging and detailed telling of Banting’s life look no further than this book!
In many ways, Banting lived what some would call a heroic life. At least that is what the employees of the Comic Corporation of America thought in 1941. Banting was featured in the second volume of World Famous Heroes Magazine in a story titled, “Canada’s Hero of Science (Sir Frederick Banting)”. The comic was drawn by Bob Lubbers, a famous comic artist who drew the Tarzan comics at Fiction House and was an original illustrator for DC’s Vigilante. The comic created in 1941 actually predates an official book biography on Banting by five years. It was used as a way to communicate the life-story of Banting to the public on a large-scale. The book covers Banting’s medical and military career and opened up the world to a broader understanding of Banting the man. That being said there were elements of his life that were left out of the narrative, most notably the controversy surrounding the Nobel Prize and his life as an artist. The oversight of his art is likely due to his paintings being relatively unknown during his lifetime, being widely seen for the first time at an art show curated by A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven in 1943. Nevertheless, it is a great introduction into the topic and will inspire the reader to learn more! A new edition of the 1941 comic is available for sale at Banting House NHSC’s gift shop. If you are unable to make it into our gift shop online ordering can be done here.
Whether it be a traditional biography or a comic book learning about Banting’s story from different mediums is always enlightening. I hope this blog has inspired you to pick up one of these books or gift one to a friend! Happy reading!
This post was written by Rachel Delle Palme, Graduate Research Assistant at
Banting House NHSC. Rachel is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at