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Lawrence Hill

Bestselling Author, The Book of Negroes

Lawrence Hill
Interview - The Hour
Interview - TVO
Lawrence Hill
Interview - The Hour
Interview - TVO

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winner and bestselling author of The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill speaks as well as he writes. With engrossing, poignant talks on diverse topics such as channeling creative energy, censorship, racial identity, Black history in Canada, mental health, and the craft of writing, Hill earns praise from every group he addresses.

Hill is the son of American civil rights activists — an African American father and white mother. Both wrote books about black history in Canada and co-founded the Ontario Black History Society, for which Hill volunteered. His father was the first director, and later Chair, of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. He also served as Ombudsman of Ontario.

The author of 11 books, which have been published around the world, Hill’s most recent novel is Beatrice and Croc Harry. His first novel for young readers, it quickly became the #1 national bestseller in the category of Canadian juvenile fiction book. It explores a young Black girl’s tempestuous relationship with an 800-pound crocodile as she attempts to re-assemble her lost identity.

Hill’s most recent adult fiction novel is The Illegal, which was longlisted for the 2017 International DUBLIN Literary Award, shortlisted in 2016 for the NAACP Image Award for Fiction and the Hamilton Arts Council Literary Award, and chosen as the CBC Canada Reads winner in 2016. His other books include Any Known Blood and Some Great Thing, as well as his memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada — all of which were national bestsellers in Canada.

Hill is the only Canadian to have won CBC’s Canada Reads competition twice. He has also won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, which earned him a private audience with the Queen; the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; the Governor General’s Award for Popular Media; and the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize.

Fluent in both English and French, Hill delivered the Massey Lectures based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life in 2013. He also co-wrote the adaptation of his book The Book of Negroes for a six-part television miniseries, which won eleven Canadian Screen Awards as well as the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing for a Motion Picture. His most recent play, Sensitivity, is available for streaming on CBC Gem and has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award.

Hill holds honorary doctorates from ten Canadian universities. In 2015, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada, received the Governor General’s History Award, and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame. He currently sits on the advisory committee of the Centre for Community — Engaged Narrative Arts, and volunteers with Walls to Bridges, a non-profit group that delivers university courses to prisoners. Hill is also an honorary patron of Crossroads International, where he lends the name of his best-known character for the Aminata Fund, which supports programs for girls and women in Africa.

In addition, Hill is a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph.

Speaking topics

Presentations listed below include in-person and virtual keynotes, as well as workshops, fireside chats, and other presentation formats.

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Client reviews

  • Mr. Hill is a gifted and engaging speaker who addresses the dynamics of the human condition with passion, compassion and empathy. His audiences, whether they be adults or students, are riveted by his stories and the relevance of his writing to their daily lives. As a Writer-in-Residence over the past two years at the Toronto District School Board, he has left an indelible impression on everyone he has spoken with.

  • Our conference was an enormous success due mostly to the presence of our keynote speaker and workshop leader, Lawrence Hill….He tailored his address to attract the attention of all his audience members and was playful and humourous when it was warranted….I heard only inspired and positive reviews about Lawrence’s keynote from both teachers and students. They were “over the moon” excited about his presentation. Lawrence is certainly a gifted writer whose skills have transcended the written page to the oral forum.

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