Greg Gatenby was born in Toronto in 1950. He has published several books of poetry, but is undoubtedly better known as an author for a) his two, internationally-published anthologies about dolphins and whales in art, music and literature, b) for his further two books examining how foreign writers have written about Canada, and c) for his acclaimed Toronto: A Literary Guide.
In addition to his work as a writer, Greg Gatenby was the founding Artistic Director of the world-renowned, annual International Festival of Authors and of the weekly Harbourfront Reading Series. Under the neary thirty years of his directorship, the program featured readings and talks by more than 4,000 authors—including 19 Nobel laureates—from more than 90 nations. The program—and Greg Gatenby— have received major profiles in the world's leading periodicals. Time Magazine, for example, declared that he had, more than anyone else in the city, helped to make Toronto one of the literary capitals of the world. The program and his directorship have also received singular praise from Newsweek, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Times of London, Le Monde, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Asahi Shinbun, Corriere della Sera, and El Pais among many others—and the Los Angeles Times described the festival he created as the "Olympics of world literature." One of the highlights of his career as a literary impresario was organizing and hosting, in October 2000, the largest, paid-admission literary event in the world—a reading from Harry Potter by the author J.K. Rowling. More than 20,000 people packed into the Skydome in Toronto to hear her speak.
In 1989 Greg Gatenby was given the City of Toronto Literary Award, an honour conferred annually upon a person who has made an outstanding contribution to Toronto letters. The previous winners of the Prize were Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. In 1991 he was made an Honorary Lifetime Member of the League of Canadian Poets. In 1992 he founded the Humber College School of Creative Writing, bringing such eminent authors as Margaret Atwood, Richard Ford, D.M. Thomas, Ann Beattie, Caryl Phillips, Jane Urquhart, Peter Carey, Dionne Brand and many others to the program. And in the year 2000 he was named to the Order of Canada, the highest honour that can be conferred on civilians in his native land.
Since the late 1970s, Greg Gatenby has been an outspoken advocate for authors, and for freedom of expression. He was one of the five founding members of the reconstituted PEN Canadian Centre, and one of the four principal organizers of the PEN World Congress in Toronto in 1989. He also served on the reconstituted board of the Writers Development Trust, helping that organization find its feet and re-establish itself as one of the leading literary organizations in the country. For two years in the early 1990s he hosted a television book-show for TV-Ontario, and for some years was the chief book reviewer on the flagship arts program of CBC Radio. In 2002 he also hosted a program called "Authors at Harbourfront" for the national Book-TV Network. He reviews regularly for The Globe & Mail.
He has given readings from his own work—and has given talks and lectures about Canadian culture and history—in most of the European nations, as well as in the USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Taiwan.