William Stevenson

Author William Stevenson was perhaps best known for his 1976 book chronicling the life of British spymaster and near-namesake Sir William Stephenson. (Photo courtesy the family of William Stevenson)

William Stevenson, the British-born Canadian journalist and author of A Man Called Intrepid, died Tuesday evening at Toronto's St. Michael's hospital. He was 89 years old.

A naval pilot who served for Great Britain during the Second World War, Stevenson became a foreign correspondent for The Toronto Star after the war.

His 2012 autobiography Past to Present: A Reporter's Story of War, Spies, People, and Politics chronicled his time as a foreign correspondent. Posted to Hong Kong for six years, he took assignments in locations such as India, Kenya and London. He also worked as a producer for the CBC.

Wrote A Man Called Intrepid

It was during his war service that he met another William Stephenson, no relation. This Stephenson was the head of British intelligence operations in the United States, whose code name was Intrepid. Journalist Stevenson immortalized spymaster Stephenson's story in the 1976 book A Man Called Intrepid.

The book became a bestseller in the U.K. and was later adapted into a TV miniseries in 1979. He published countless articles and about 20 books overall, including 90 Minutes at Entebbe, Intrepid’s Last CaseThe Bormann Brotherhood and Spymistress: The Life of Vera Atkins, the Greatest Female Secret Agent of World War II.

In an interview with CBC Radio's The Current in March, Stevenson described working as a correspondent for the Near and Far East News Agency, which was actually a cover for British intelligence — like his near-namesake, Stevenson himself was involved in the spymaster's world.

"By having a cover like that, your telegrams were not regarded as somehow spy telegrams, they were just information," he said, adding that he had a "kind of romanticized vision of what one did in looking at what's going on in the world."


  • An earlier version of the story incorrectly noted that Stevenson died at his home. He died at St. Michael's hospital in Toronto.
    Dec 03, 2013 12:28 PM ET