Samuel Hawley









Samuel Hawley is a writer. His books are highly eclectic. He has written about 16th-century East Asian history, 19th-century Korean-American relations, Olympic sprinting and land speed racing and a circus elephant named Topsy who was electrocuted in 1903. He lives in Kingston, Ontario.


Samuel Hawley was born and grew up in South Korea, the son of missionary parents. After earning BA and MA degrees in history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, he returned to East Asia with his wife to work as a teacher for nearly two decades, first in Japan and then Korea, ending in 2007 as an associate professor of English at Yonsei University in Seoul

It was in Japan in the early 1990s that Hawley started writing for magazines and newspapers on topics ranging from international travel and sumo wrestling to daimyo clocks and big-city fishing. By the late ‘90s he had turned his attention to books. His most notable work from this period is The Imjin War, the most comprehensive account in English of Japan’s sixteenth-century invasion of Korea and attempted conquest of China, an event of seismic importance in Asian history. He next focused on US Navy ensign and American diplomat George C. Foulk, Washington’s representative in Seoul at the time of Korea’s opening to the West. Hawley's interest in Foulk resulted in two books, America's Man in Korea, and Inside the Hermit Kingdom, in 2007.

Hawley began writing full-time upon returning to Canada in 2007, starting with the biography
I Just Ran: Percy Williams, World’s Fastest Human, about one of Canada’s greatest yet least known athletes.
I Just Ran won an Independent Publisher Awards silver medal and was named one of five "Best Sports Books of the Year" by the CBC. He followed this with Speed Duel: The Inside Story of the Land Speed Record in the Sixties, which received starred reviews in both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. He then turned to fiction with the novel Bad Elephant Far Stream, an imagined life story of the  real circus elephant Topsy, electrocuted on Coney Island in 1903. His latest book is the thriller Homeowner With a Gun, called "one of the year's best crime novels" by He has also written two feature film screenplays, Speed Duel and Homeowner With a Gun, based on his books.

Hawley's most recent project is The Fight That Started the Movies: The World Heavyweight Championship, the Birth of Cinema and the First Feature Film. It marks his return to narrative nonfiction and is due out in 2016.