Born in Toronto, and raised on a Holstein dairy farm near Kleinburg, Ontario, Gilbert Reid is a writer of fiction, television and radio documentaries. For thirty years, he lived, studied, and worked in Europe. He served as a diplomat in Ottawa, London, and Rome. He was an economist — working on international economic policy coordination — at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris; for six years, at the University of Messina in Sicily, he taught English and 19th and early 20th century English Literature — from Jane Austen to James Joyce — to wonderful groups of students from Sicily and Calabria.
As a journalist and book reviewer, Reid has written for The Times Literary Supplement, The Globe and Mail, Il Tempo, and many other publications; once, he worked as an adventure travel guide for the French company Nouvelles Frontières in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia; he was even recruited, briefly, as a bouncer. As a script doctor and script developer, he worked in Rome — informally — with personalities such as the inventor of the spaghetti western, Sergio Leone, the Italian star Marcello Mastroianni, and, in Toronto, with Canada’s eccentric virtuoso filmmaker Don Owen.
For almost a decade, Reid worked in public relations in Italy — interviewing cultural personalities, writers, actors, architects, directors, artists, chairing roundtables and press conferences, writing articles and catalogues and acting occasionally as translator and interpreter — with numerous cultural and film festivals — in Taormina, Sorrento-Naples, Spoleto, Venice, and others, as well as occasional work with the Montreal and Toronto Film Festivals. He also did short gigs chairing press conferences in Montreal and Toronto, and he has been on several film juries — the Prix Vercorin in Switzerland, with his friend the doyenne of Italian screenwriters, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, the French publisher Robert Laffont, and juries in Monaco, and so on.
Gilbert was for two years Press Attaché at the Canadian Embassy to Italy, and then for eleven years, he was Director of the Canadian Cultural Center in Rome, which he ran in partnership with an extraordinarily talented woman, Elena Solari. He worked as a press attaché for two Group of Seven Economic Summits held in Venice in 1980 and 1987. He was on the International Administrative Committee of the Biennale of Venice for many years. And — with an Italian virtuoso of public relations, Simona Barabesi — he created, edited, and wrote for a glossy high-quality Italian-language promotional magazine, chock full of cultural, economic, and social news out of Canada — Canada Contemporaneo.
Since returning to Canada in 1994, Gilbert has written fiction and produced and written for television and radio.
Reid is fluent in English, French, and Italian, and has written and broadcast in those languages. He can get by in German and, to a limited extent, in Spanish.
Reid has a B. A. in Economics and Political Science from the University of Toronto, an M. Sc. (Econ) in monetary economics from the London School of Economics, and a B. A. in English literature from the University of Cambridge. He studied for two years at Birkbeck College, University of London (an unfinished Ph.D. on the French novels of Samuel Beckett). And he attended the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) as an “auditeur libre.” He specialized in international economic and diplomatic relations, though he did spend most of his time at home in bed reading Flaubert, Balzac, Stendhal, and Proust — French literature and Italian literature, as well as the cinema and art of those countries, are among his many obsessions.