Mark Abley. Courtesy Mark Abley.

Mark Abley (born May 13, 1955) is a Canadian poet , journalist, editor, and non-fiction writer.


Youth and education Edit

Abley was born in Leamington, Warwickshire, England. He moved to Canada as a small boy and grew up in Lethbridge, Alberta, and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  

He attended the University of Saskatchewan, from which he won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1975. He won prizes for his poetry while a student at St John's College, Oxford 

Career Edit

, and began to write full-time after moving to Toronto in 1978. He has been a contributing editor of both Maclean's and Saturday Night magazines, and a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement

Since 1983 Abley has lived in the Montreal area. For 16 years he worked as a feature writer and book-review editor at the Montreal Gazette. He returned to freelance writing in 2003, though he continues to write columns on language issues for the Gazette. In 2009 he joined McGill-Queen's University Press as a part-time acquisition editor. He is the 1st-ever writer in residence for the city of Pointe-Claire (suburban Montreal) in 2010-11.

He has given lectures at Oxford University, Cambridge University, Ohio State University, and elsewhere.

Abley has edited several books, including When Earth Leaps Up by Anne Szumigalski. He is Szumigalski's literary executor. He has taught for the Quebec Writers' Federation and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

His forthcoming poetry collection, The Tongues of Earth: New and selected poems, will be published by Coteau Books in 2015.

Writing Edit

Abley has written 3 books of poetry, 2 children's books, and several books of non-fiction. His best-known work may be Spoken Here: Travels among threatened languages (2003), which was translated into French, Spanish and Japanese.

His book The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the future of English appeared in May 2008. It was praised as "fascinating" in The Times of London, and hailed by William Safire in The New York Times.

In August 2009 Abley published a children's book about words and their origins, Camp Fossil Eyes.


  • In 1996 Abley won Canada's National Newspaper Award for critical writing.
  • Spoken Here: Travels among threatened languages (2003) was short-listed for the Grand Prix du Livre de Montreal and the Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize.
  • n 2005 Abley was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for research into language change.
  • He was awarded the LiberPress Prize in Girona, Spain, in October 2009.



  • The Cutting Edge. Oxford, UK: Paul Archer, 1977.
  • Blue Sand, Blue Moon. Dunvegan, ON: Cormorant Books, 1988.
  • Glasburyon. Kingston, ON: Quarry Press, 1994.
  • Dissolving Bedrock. Outremont, QC: Over The Moon, 2001.
  • The Silver Palace Restaurant. Montreal & Ithaca, NY: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005.


  • Beyond Forget: Rediscovering the Prairies. San Francisco, CA: Sierra Club, 1986; Vancouver, BC, & Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 1988; Loncon: Chatto & Windus, 1988.
  • The Ice Storm: An historic record in photographs of January 1998 (with Jennifer Robinson). Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1998.
  • Stories from the Ice Storm. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1999.
  • Spoken Here: Travels among threatened languages. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003; Toronto: Random House Canada, 2003; London: Heinemann, 2003.
  • The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the future of English. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2008; Toronto: Random House Canada, 2008; London: Heinemann, 2008.
  • The City We Share. Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue, QC: Shoreline, 2011.
  • Conversations with a dead man : the legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott. Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2013.


  • Ghost Cat. Toronto & Buffalo, NY: Douglas & McIntyre, 2001.
  • Camp Fossil Eyes: Digging for the origins of words. Toronto: Annick Press, 2009.


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[1]

See alsoEdit

White on White - Mark Abley

White on White - Mark Abley


  1. Search results = au:Mark Abley, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Dec. 16, 2013.

External linksEdit

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