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Elizabeth Abbott  

Elizabeth Abbott is a writer and journalist with a special interest in history, women's issues, animals and the environment.

Elizabeth Abbott is a writer and historian with a special interest in women's issues, social justice for all and sugarcane-cutters in particular, the treatment and lives of animals, and the environment. She has a doctorate from McGill University in 19th century history. Before moving to Toronto, she lived in Montreal and Port-au-Prince. She is the author of several books, listed below. Her most recent, Sugar: A Bittersweet History, was inspired by her Antiguan heritage.

Elizabeth is a Research Associate at Trinity College, University of Toronto and, from 1991 to 2004, was Dean of Women. She is vice-president of the Riverdale Historical Society and sits on the Board of Directors of the St. Patrick's Benevolent Society. She is a member of the Antigua and Barbuda Association of Toronto and of PEN Canada. She volunteers for Tafelmusik and from 1995 to 2007 co-ordinated the Trinity College-Mount Sinai Hospital Pet Therapy Program. She served for several years on the Editorial Board of the Canadian Human Rights Foundation and the Rights and Freedoms Committee of The Writers' Union of Canada. She has received a Mount Sinai Hospital volunteer service award, a City of Toronto Community Service Volunteer Award and an Ontario Government Volunteer Service Award. The Riverdale Historical Society, which she co-founded in 1999, won the 2007 Heritage Toronto Community Heritage Award and the Members' Choice Award.

As part of her research for Sugar: A Bittersweet History, Elizabeth spent time on sugarcane bateys in the Dominican Republic, interviewing Haitian sugarcane cutters and spending time with their families. She is committed to advocating for their right to fair wages, decent treatment and regularization of their civil status, and granting Dominican birth certificates to every child born in the Dominican Republic. She longs for the day when fairly traded sugar is universally available, and unfairly traded sugar (and everything else) no longer exists.

Elizabeth is currently working on Marriage: Where We've Been and Where We're Heading, to be published by Penguin in 2010.

Selected Publications:

  • Sugar: A Bittersweet History. Toronto: Penguin 2008.

  • A History of Mistresses. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2003.

  • A History of Celibacy. Toronto: HarperCollins, 1999.

  • Chronicle of Canada. Editor-in-chief. Montreal: Chronicle Publications, 1990.

  • Haiti: The Duvaliers and their Legacy. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988.

  • Tropical Obsession: A Universal Tragedy in Four Acts Set in Haiti. Port-au-Prince:

   Edition Deschamps, 1986.


  • National Magazine Award for Environmental Writing, 1991, for "Haiti: Where Rivers 

  Run Brown," in Equinox.

  • L'Histoire Universelle de la Chastité et du Célibat (Fides, 2001), the French

   translation of A History of Celibacy, won the Governor-General's Award for


-  A History of Celibacy, translated by Paule Pierre-Noyart as Histoire universelle de

   la chasteté et du celibat, won the Governor General's Award for Translation in

   2002. The citation read: "A subject as sensitive as this demands a skilful and

   delicate touch. The translator, fully engaged in a stylistic adventure, has captured

   the subtle flavour of the text and the pleasure contained within it. Captivated from

   the very start, we remain involved right to the end. While careful research has

   ensured a solid foundation, the translator's elegance and fine sense of irony

   guarantee a seductive experience.

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