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.