Helen Humphreys

There were several good contenders for the letter H in my CanLit Project, but Helen Humphreys was the writer I finally decided on.  Next came the decision of which of her books to read, because most of them sound good to me.  After this project is over, I am going to have a whole new (giant) Canadian TBR list.

Helen Humphreys was born in Kingston-on-Thames, England in 1961, and now lives in Kingston, Ontario.  She writes both poetry and novels.  In 2009, Helen Humphreys won the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence.  There is not a lot of information about Humphreys on her website, or at Wikipedia.  I’m going to assume that she likes it that way, and leave it at that.  Instead, I will talk about her books.

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Leaving Earth (1997) – winner of the 1998 City of Toronto Book Award, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Anthem (1999) – her most recent poetry collection, which won the 2000 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry

Afterimage (2000) – won the 2000 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year

The Lost Garden (2002) – was a 2003 Canada Reads selection, and a New York Times Notable Book of the Year

Wild Dogs (2004) – won the 2005 Lambda Prize for fiction

The Frozen Thames (2007) – a work of creative non-fiction, was a #1 national bestseller

Coventry (2008) – was shortlisted for the Trillium Book Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction

The Reinvention of Love (2011) – longlisted for the Dublin Impac Literary Award, and shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Award for Fiction

Nocturne (2013) – a memoir about the life and death of her brother, Martin                     The Story Behind the Story: Helen Humphreys on Nocturne (National Post)

2025600 (1)The book I am choosing to read as my H-book is Coventry.  The story takes place in Coventry, England on the night of November 14, 1940.        “…one night, one city, and three people bound by fate.”



10 thoughts on “Helen Humphreys

    • Naomi says:

      This is my first, also. When I first settled on Humphreys, I was surprised by how many books she’s written that I haven’t read yet!

  1. Mike Cullen says:

    we studied a few paragraphs from Helen regarding “scenes” and “tone” in a memoir class I recently took at Alexandrai Writing Centre in Calgary and these pieces were from “Nocturne” > I am now reading that book and it’s my first book of heres that I have read. Aqwesome write. I do know Helen very well yet maybe not so well so what you have said about the lack of information would to me be how Helen may prefer it. But I can say she is a kind and warm person and can’t imagine not knowing her.

    • Naomi says:

      Thanks for adding what you know about Helen Humphreys. Her recent memoir, Nocturne, was a tempting choice when I was trying to decide which book to read. Would you recommend it?

  2. Deborah says:

    I read The Frozen Thames and I love that book! It is just right for a quick hit of historical fiction and it’s been one of my faves ever since. My daughter took my copy of Nocturne to read and then asked if she could just keep it please because by then she had marked so many passages that I probably didn’t want it back anyway…you know how that goes. According to said daughter Nocturne is a must read. Have your kleenex handy. No, I still haven’t read it, but I will.

    • Naomi says:

      I was intrigued by The Frozen Thames when I read about it, but my library doesn’t have it. My mother does, though, so I plan on borrowing it next time I’m there. And, It’s good to hear your daughter enjoyed Nocturne so much! I will have to eventually read that one, as well. Thanks for commenting!

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