Lawrence Hill

For Book Clubs

Amnesty International

Amnesty International Book Club has created a discussion guide for The Illegal.


Black History in Canada Education Guide

Historica Canada, in partnership with TD Bank, has created a Black History in Canada Education Guide.

Aussi disponible en français.

Freedom Bound

From the February/March 2007 edition of The Beaver: Canada’s History Magazine, Lawrence Hill’s feature article called “Freedom Bound” about the historical document the "Book of Negroes."


By Lawrence Hill

“How Harper Lee Helped Canadians Ignore Racism in Our Own Backyard”

The Globe and Mail, February 1, 2016

Harper Lee, a giant of American literature, died Friday. What do her life and her work mean to Canadians, as we move through the ever-shifting sands of racial politics and try to define and better understand our past and our present? 

Removed from immediacy of childhood, Go Set a Watchman less powerful than Mockingbird

The Globe and Mail, July 14, 2015

No American novel has had a more seminal influence on our perception of racial injustice, and of the need to oppose it, than Harper Lee’sTo Kill a Mockingbird. First published in 1960, and set in the Great Depression in the early 1930s in the fictional Maycomb County in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird created two of the most memorable characters in 20th-century literature ... It has been assumed for decades that Mockingbird would be Lee’s only book: An instant bestseller and Pulitzer Prize-winner that has been translated into more than 40 languages. But the book we think of as her first turns out to be her second ... In a way, it helps to see Go Set a Watchman as an early draft of To Kill a Mockingbird — a draft written before she figured out the story she really had to tell.

“What I Learned About Language When I Titled My Novel The Book of Negroes, February 13, 2015

In 2007, shortly before the first printing of the novel in the United States, my American publisher (W.W. Norton & Co.) changed the title to Someone Knows My Name. I was told that American bookstores were reluctant to order a book with the word Negroes on the cover. In the Netherlands, meanwhile, where the Canadian title was translated quite literally to Het Negerboek, a small group of protesters of Dutch Surinamese descent was so outraged that they burned copies of the book cover in an Amsterdam park. When, back in the States, BET bought a six-part miniseries adaptation of the story ..., the network opted to use my original title, which persuaded Norton to re-release the book as The Book of Negroes. This back-and-forth made me wonder: What is it with the word Negroes? How has it come to be so incendiary?

“Adaptation: Rewriting The Book of Negroes for the Small Screen” 

The Walrus, December 15, 2014

We novelists crave legitimacy. If a filmmaker acquires the rights to your book, that means you’re doing well—that you deserve a smidgen of respect. There are few ways for us to get ahead; we have been known to take on all manner of ignoble work in order to buy cheese and bread. I have written for newspapers, penned speeches for politicians I’d never support with my ballot, taught creative writing, led bicycle tours and canoe trips, washed dishes, and worked as a train operator. Trust me: selling film rights beats all of the above.

“Meet You at the Door”

The Walrus, September 12, 2012

This happened back in the dinosaur days, in the town of Gull Lake, population 800. The gulls had all died, and if ever there had been a lake it had dried up. On the Saskatchewan farmlands, oil pumps bobbed up and down, up and down, looking like black grasshoppers on speed. Folks were fuming about the metric system and had a nickname for the new top-loading railway car: a Trudeau hopper. I had other preoccupations. A ghost had chased me out of university and had hounded me for a year in Greece, Italy, France, and Spain. And now I was back in Canada, to take a summer job in a place where I knew no one.

Is Africa’s Pain Black America’s Burden?”

The Walrus , February 2005

In 1895, W.E.B. Du Bois became the first black to obtain a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and argued that only the elite of the African-American middle class, the “talented tenth,” could pull the entire black population out of their collective oppression. Du Bois’s view contrasted sharply with the ideas of Booker T. Washington, a former slave who argued that social change for American blacks could only be achieved from the ground up, through entering the trades and working hard. Both men inspired African-Americans as well as African-Canadians, and the civil rights movement improved conditions for all. Conditions, in Africa, meanwhile, have become increasingly dire—and are increasingly ignored.

The Freedom Seeker

Archives of Ontario, 2007

Father of Lawrence Hill and his siblings singer-songwriter Dan Hill and the late novelist Karen Hill, Daniel G. Hill III — along with his wife Donna Bender Hill — was a pioneer in the fields of human rights and Black history in Canada. The son and grandson of African-American ministers of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Daniel Hill was born in Independence, Missouri in 1923, and served as a Black soldier in the highly segregated American Army in World War II. After the war, he obtained a degree from Howard University, studied in Norway and moved permanently to Canada one day after his interracial marriage to Donna Bender in Washington DC in 1953. They raised their family in Toronto, where Donna worked for the Toronto Labour Committee for Human Rights and where Daniel obtained his PhD in Sociology at the University of Toronto after completing his groundbreaking PhD thesis Negroes in Toronto: A Sociological Study of a Minority Group (1960). Daniel Hill became the first Director and later the chairperson of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, ran a human rights consulting firm, and later served as the Ombudsman of Ontario. Daniel and Donna, along with friends, co-founded the Ontario Black History Society and Daniel Hill's book The Freedom Seekers: Blacks in Early Canada became the first popular history of African-Canadians. 

On Lawrence Hill


CBC announces The Illegal wins the Canada Reads 2016 competition, March 24, 2016.

CBC host Shad interviews Clara Hughes and Lawrence Hill on CBC Radio’s Q show, March 25, 2016.

Patrick Henry Bass reviews The Illegal for Time and Essence magazines.

Mark Medley profiles The Illegal for The Globe and Mail, September 5, 2015.

Carrie Snyder reviews The Illegal for The Globe and Mail, September 5, 2015.

Blood and Belonging in The Book of Negroes” Maclean’s magazine, Jan 4, 2015.

The Washington Post covers The Book of Negroes TV miniseries, January 24, 2015.

Jane Taber features the The Book of Negroes TV miniseries for The Globe and Mail, January 3, 2015.

Excerpt and interview on Blood: The Stuff of Life Maclean's magazine, September 23, 2013.

Carolyn Abraham reviews Blood: The Stuff of Life for The Globe and Mail on October 5, 2013.

Devyani Saltzman reviews Blood: The Stuff of Life for The National Post on October 12, 2013.

Mark Medley hosts “Meet You At the Door: A Q&A with Lawrence Hill”, for The National Post, October 16, 2012.

Donna Bailey Nurse writes about “Dear Sir: I Intend to Burn Your Book” and Hill's fight against censorship in The Toronto Star, April 26, 2013.

Why The Book of Negroes Matters”, The Globe and Mail, March 14, 2009.

An essay by Katherine Ashenburg's on Lawrence Hill: “Seeing Black”, in Toronto Life, December 2009.

Brian Jamieson writes about “Lawrence Hill’s Remarkable Teachers”, in Professionally Speaking, March 2010.

 Catherine Pierre's “Terrible Journey, Beautiful Tale”, on The Book of Negroes in John Hopkins Magazine, April 2008.

“Black + White...equals black”, cover article in Maclean’s Magazine, August 27, 2001.