Bio (May 30, 2023)
Lawrence Hill is a writer whose eleven novels and works of non-fiction have been widely read in Canada, translated into many languages and published around the world. He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph and has served as a teacher or mentor to developing writers for thirty years. In June 2023, he received a French literary award known as Le Prix Folio-Télérama des libraries 2023 for Aminata (Folio Gallimard, 2023), which is the French translation of his novel The Book of Negroes.
His most recent novel is Beatrice and Croc Harry (HarperCollins Canada, 2022). It is 375 pages, and was written for children aged 9 – 14 as well as for older teens and adults. It is about a young girl who is trying to reassemble her lost identity, and who develops a tempestuous relationship with a fast-talking, 700-pound crocodile.
Hill is the author of ten other books, including the novels The Illegal and The Book of Negroes (both were #1 national bestsellers in Canada), the novel Any Known Blood, and the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. He is writing a new novel for adults about the thousands of African-American soldiers who helped build the Alaska Highway in northern BC and Yukon in 1942-43.
Lawrence Hill is the winner of various awards including the National Magazine Award for best feature article (“Is Africa’s Pain Black American’s Burden?”), The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his novel The Book of Negroes, and twice has won CBC Radio’s Canada Reads as well as Radio-Canada’s Le Combat des livres. He is the winner of the Governor General’s Award for Popular Media and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize.
Hill delivered the 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes, which won eleven Canadian Screen Awards as well as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing for a Motion Picture. Hill’s recent one-act, one-woman play, Sensitivity, was commissioned by Obsidian Theatre in Toronto, and aired for one year on CBC Gem TV.
His essay about his mother, “Act of Love: The Life and Death of Donna Mae Hill” appeared in the Globe and Mail in 2018 and enriched public conversations about medically assisted dying.
Formerly a reporter with The Globe and Mail and parliamentary correspondent for The Winnipeg Free Press, Hill speaks fluent English and French, and some Spanish. He has lived and worked across Canada, in Baltimore, and in Spain and France.
Hill is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, for which he travelled as a volunteer to the African countries Niger, Cameroon, Mali, and Swaziland, and to which he lends the name of his best-known character for the Aminata Fund, which supports programs for girls and women in Africa. Hill has been supporting Crossroads International for 40 years.
Hill sits on the advisory committee of the Centre for Community—Engaged Narrative Arts in Hamilton, Ontario. His earlier volunteer work has included serving The Black Loyalist Heritage Society, Book Clubs for Inmates, Project Bookmark Canada, and The Ontario Black History Society. He continues to support and serve as a volunteer for The Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada. He volunteers with Walls to Bridges, a non-profit group that delivers university courses to prisoners. He has taught creative writing or visited book clubs in many federal penitentiaries in Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.
Hill graduated from the University of Toronto Schools in 1975. He served as school captain in his final year at the high school. He has a B.A. in economics from Université Laval in Quebec City (1980) and an M.A. in writing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (1993). He has received ten honorary doctorates from Canadian universities including Dalhousie University, Western University, The University of Toronto and The University of British Columbia.
An inductee into Canada’s Walk of Fame and a Member of the Order of Canada, Hill lives in Hamilton ON.