Lawrence Hill is the son of American immigrants — a black father and a white mother — who came to Canada the day after they married in 1953 in Washington, D.C. Growing up in the predominantly white suburb of Don Mills, Ontario in the sixties, Hill was greatly influenced by his parents’ work in the human rights movement. Much of Hill’s writing touches on issues of identity and belonging.
Hill is the author of ten books. His 2007 novel The Book of Negroes (also published as Someone Knows My Name and Aminata) won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and both CBC Radio’s Canada Reads and Radio-Canada’s Combat des livres. In 2013, Hill wrote the non-fiction books Blood: the Stuff of Life (which formed the basis of his 2013 Massey Lectures) and Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book: An Anatomy of a Book Burning. Along with director Clement Virgo, he co-wrote a six-part television miniseries based on The Book of Negroes, which appeared on CBC TV in Canada and on BET in the USA in early 2015. His fourth novel, The Illegal, was published by HarperCollins Canada in 2015 and the following year by WW Norton & Co. in the United States. In 2016, The Book of Negroes miniseries won 11 Canadian Screen Awards, including best miniseries and best writer, and The Illegal won Canada Reads.