The best writing advice Helen Humphreys ever received applies equally to life, she says. “Simply pay attention to where you are—emotionally and physically—and work from there.” 

Helen is the award-winning author of nine novels, four books of poetry, and five works of creative non-fiction. This year sees her return to her series of nature mediations with the beautifully illustrated Field Study: Meditations on a Year at the Herbarium, which explores – through personal drawings, archival photographs and accounts of famous (think Emily Dickinson) and amateur collectors –  the humble but rewarding work of collecting plant specimens through the 19th and 20th century. 

A former Kingston Poet Laureate, Helen has long been a leading light and generous mentor in the city’s vibrant writing community—and beyond. The list of accolades for her books is long, including awards from the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize, the City of Toronto Book Award, the Lambda Prize for fiction, the Harbourfront Festival Prize for literary excellence; being shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, and longlisted for the Dublin Impac Award and the B.C. National Award for Non-Fiction .Several of her books, including the novel The Reinvention of Love and Coventrywere chosen as New York Times Editors’ Choice and a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year.  

Born in Kingston-on-Thames, England, Helen has lives in Kingston, Ontario, and has a riverside country property near Bellrock.

Helen is supported by Author Patrons Queens’ University Archives, Justin Connidis, and Julia McArthur


Appearing in:
8. Herbariums – Meditations on Forgotten Flora

Past Festival Appearances

2020: 2. An Evening with Helen Humphreys, 20. Writing the Natural World
2018: Writing Point of ViewWomen’s Work: Fiction
2017: 13. Observations on Nature: Memoir, 22. Poetry Reading and Art Show Launch
2016: 24. The Garden and the River: Meditations on Landscape
2015: 13. Illuminated Manuscripts, and 48. Personal to Universal: Poetry