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Author Lawrence Hill meets the Queen

The Story

Lawrence Hill wins the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best book for his novel The Book of Negroes. CBC TV's Around the World catches up with him as he travels to England with two goals: one is to meet Queen Elizabeth, the other is to look at the true 'Book of Negroes', the ancient ledgers in which are written the names, ages, and monetary value of the slaves who bought their freedom and a passage to Nova Scotia by fighting alongside the British in the American Revolution. Hill's fictional character, Aminata, born in Africa in 1745, is captured, shipped to America and forced into slavery. She engages in a harrowing and inspiring struggle for survival, education and freedom. Hill is already respected as a journalist, non-fiction and fiction writer. As we see in this clip, his most recent novel has thrust Hill into the literary world's spotlight - and into Buckingham Palace.

Medium: Television
Program: Around the World
Broadcast Date: July 29, 2008
Guest(s): Lawrence Hill
Host: Dianne Buckner
Reporter: Reg Sherren
Duration: 5:01

Did You know?

• Lawrence Hill is the child of civil activists: his black father and white mother moved to Canada from the U.S. the day after their wedding in 1953. He grew up in Don Mills, Ont., a predominantly white suburb of Toronto. The family's story is told in his memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. • Starting as a reporter for the Globe and Mail, Hill moved on to write a documentary film on the history of the black church in Canada, and has several non-fiction works to his name.


The Book of Negroes is Hill's third work of fiction, and was released under the title Someone Knows My Name in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.


• Lawrence Hill is the brother of singer-songwriter Dan Hill.


• Upon meeting Queen Elizabeth, Hill would have been counselled to bow before her, but not from the waist; just a bob of his head. And he would have been asked to address her as "Your Majesty" at first, and as "Ma'am" thereafter. The introduction came as a result of winning the 2008 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for best book for his novel The Book of Negroes.



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