Aritha Van Herk (Netherlands)
Van Herk was born in Westaskiwin, just outside of Edmonton, in 1954. Her parents and older siblings had emigrated from the Netherlands only a few years previously. She was raised on a farm and was bilingual, in English and Dutch, from an early age. In 1976 she completed a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian literature and creative writing from the University of Alberta and in 1978 she finished her MA. That same year she published her first novel, Judith, which won the Seal Canadian First Novel Award. In total she has published eight books, four of them novels. These novels have been strongly influenced by her Dutch-Canadian upbringing and often deal with themes relating to the search for home. Her 2002 book Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta inspired an online exhibit developed by the Glenbow Museum. In addition, she has published numerous essays which have appeared in magazines such as Elle and Chatelaine. Since 1983 she has taught creative writing at the University of Calgary.