Ronald Wright


Historian, novelist, and essayist Ronald Wright is the award-winning author of nine books of nonfiction and fiction published in 16 languages and more than 50 countries. Much of his work explores the relationships between past and present, peoples and power, other cultures and our own.

A Short History of Progress, in which he examines humankind’s increasingly precarious “experiment” with civilization, was the best-selling book in the 50-year history of the prestigious CBC Massey Lecture Series. It won the Libris Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year and was recently chosen by Terry Jones (of Monty Python) on the BBC show A Good Read. It is currently in production as a documentary film by the makers of Denys Arcand’s Barbarian Invasions and Mark Achbar’s The Corporation.

Wright’s first novel, A Scientific Romance, a nightmare future of our making, won Britain’s David Higham Prize for Fiction and was chosen a book of the year by the New York Times, the Sunday Times, the Mail on Sunday, and the Globe & Mail. His other bestsellers include Time Among the Maya and Stolen Continents, a history of the Americas since Columbus which won the Gordon Montador Award and was chosen a book of the year by the Independent and the Sunday Times.

Wright contributes criticism to the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. He has also written and presented documentaries for radio and television on both sides of the Atlantic. His latest book, What Is America?, was a No.1 bestseller and finalist for the B.C. Book Prize.

Born in England to Canadian and British parents, Wright read archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge University and has been awarded two honorary doctorates. He spent many years in Mexico and South America, Africa, and the South Seas, travelling on research for his books and taking part in archaeological digs. While in Peru he wrote Lonely Planet’s first Quechua (Inca) phrasebook and recorded several albums of indigenous music there and elsewhere.

Wright lives on Canada’s West Coast.  His latest novel, The Gold Eaters, will be published by Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada and Riverhead/Penguin USA in fall 2015.


“Ronald Wright is an historical philosopher with a profound understanding of other cultures.” –Jan Morris

“I am an old admirer of Ronald Wright’s work. He writes brilliantly and with a very uncommon level of empathy and sensitivity…No one is better at showing how the past infuses, and, in most cases, continues to blight the present.” –Larry McMurtry

Book is now Film

Surviving Progress, Martin Scorsese’s documentary film based on A Short History of Progress, has premiered at the Santa Barbara, Dubai, Paris, Amsterdam, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal Film Festivals, and more.

Martin Scorsese introduced the New York premiere at the Lincoln Center on April 6, 2012.

On June 4, BBC4 showed the film to rave reviews in the Times, Independent, and other London papers.  It has also screened on the French-German channel Arte.

For further details, screenings, and reviews see


Executive Producer: Martin Scorsese

Producers: Daniel Louis & Mark Achbar

Directors: Harold Crooks & Mathieu Roy


Click here to watch the trailer

Copyright © Ronald Wright 2014
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