About

Charles Wilkins

Charles Wilkins is the author of fifteen books, including The Circus at the Edge of the Earth (about his travels with the Great Wallenda Circus), Walk to New York (about his 2002 walk from Thunder Bay to New York City), and In the Land of Long Fingernails (a memoir about a summer he spent working in a large Toronto cemetery). He is the co-author of two international bestsellers, Paddle to the Amazon and After the Applause.

In 2011, Wilkins undertook the most exhilarating and daring of his numerous adventures as a writer. At the age of 63, he joined a crew of 16 and, after a year of intense training, rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in a fragile experimental rowboat. He was motivated (in his own words) “by a lifelong fascination with exotic travel, by a deep curiosity about the planet, and by a question: What would happen if rather than merely enduring risk and uncertainty as we add years, we decided instead to embrace risk, to juice up on it… reclaim our bodies… re-establish ground.” The result of that Atlantic crossing is Wilkins’ most recent book, Little Ship of Fools, published by Greystone Books.

Four of Wilkins’ books have been named to the Globe & Mail’s annual Top 100 Books (1999, 2001, 2004, 2008), and he has won five National Magazine Awards. He has been a finalist for the Writers Trust Non-Fiction Prize, the Trillium Literary Award, the Stephen Leacock Award and the Toronto Book Award. He has three children and divides his time between Thunder Bay, on the north shore of Lake Superior, and his cabin in Muskoka, Ontario.

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In effect, we were test pilots for a boat that might at best become a model for the future of the sport – or at very least an honourable experiment. At worst, Big Blue would end her days as a scattering of expensive flotsam amidst an array of kit bags and life preservers on the lonely and heaving surface of the Atlantic.

- Charles Wilkins