Monday, March 20, 2017


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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

MARCONI | Biography by Marc Raboy

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937)
A long, probing review by Rowland Lorimer of Marc Raboy's 2016 biography of Guglielmo Marconi has recently appeared in the Canadian Journal of Communication.

My brother Randal just brought it to my attention. I attach a note about Lorimer at the end.

Lorimer notes that Marconi liked to hobnob with important people and pursue attractive women, both characteristics connected with his genius in pursuing his goals with determination with more common sense than analytical depth.

He was engaged to Inez Milholland after a shipboard romance on the Carpathia, when Marconi unveiled the first Cunard daily shipboard newspaper based on wireless information gleaned from the on-board Marconi communication system. This Cunard bulletin was a fixture of the unforgettable voyages that I and my five siblings traveled on, shuttling between the British Isles and North America when our Dad E. R. (Spike) Marlin (1909-1994) was with the U.N. I remember interviewing fellow passengers for one of these Cunard shipboard bulletins.

Marconi's engagement with Inez lasted only a few months as Guglielmo's Irish mother soon realized that if Marconi married Inez the couple would surely end up in North America, and in any case certainly not in Italy or Ireland.

Instead, Guglielmo married an Irish girl with aristocratic aspirations. She stayed in Ireland going to parties while Guglielmo stuck by with his lonely wireless station in Nova Scotia. "Married to the radio," they said.

The review notes that Guglielmo's mother was a member of the Irish-whisky Jameson family, which  helped get the wireless system commercialized, although eventually the Western Union wired systems successfully fought the expansion of the superior Marconi wireless system.

It was through the Jameson family that Inez and Eugen Boissevain were connected. Eugen's mother, née in Dublin Emily Heloïse MacDonnell, spent her summers in Sligo with her Jameson cousins. Eugen worked with Marconi on getting investors in the wireless system. Marconi suggested to Eugen that he meet his former flame Inez. Inez and Eugen clicked immediately.

Rowland Lorimer (, the reviewer of the Marconi biography, was the founding director of the Master of Publishing program and the Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing at Simon Fraser University and headed the program for 19 years.  After a year’s leave for research, he will retire in September 2015. Rowland is past editor of the Canadian Journal of Communication and currently, as the Director of CISP Journal Services, publishes of eight journals including the CJC. He served two terms as president of the Canadian Association of Learned Journals and has recently returned to its executive committee. His two major books are Mass Communication in Canada (8 editions) and Ultra Libris: Policy, Technology and the Creative Economy of Book Publishing in CanadaFor the last ten years he has researched the Canadian publishing industry, journal publishing, and the mass media.

Marc Raboy is the author of the new biography of Guglielmo Marconi published by Oxford University Press. Prof. Raboy holds the Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, in the Media and Communications Department of Art History and Communications at McGill University in Montreal. Raboy credits me with providing some details in his book about Marconi's mother's family that I sent to him in an email on July 26, 2012.

Greg Milner is another reviewer of Marconi's biography. He is the author of Pinpoint: How GPS is Changing Technology, Culture and Our Minds.

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