de Villiers, Marq

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de Villiers, Marq

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Marq de Villiers is a veteran Canadian journalist and author of books on exploration, social and natural history, politics and travel. The son of Rene and Moira de Villiers, he was born in 1940 in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and was educated at the University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics. Between 1962-1968 he worked as a reporter for the Toronto Telegram, an editor for Reuters, London, and a senior feature writer at The Cape Times. He was the Moscow correspondent for Toronto Telegram, and resident bureau chief for Look and Venture magazines, reporting from most parts of the Soviet Union and East Europe between 1969-1971. After moving back to Canada, he worked as a freelance magazine writer and contributing editor at Weekend Magazine, Montreal, then spent fourteen years with Toronto Life magazine in consecutive roles of executive editor, editor and publisher. From 1994-1994 he was the editorial director of WHERE Magazines International in Los Angeles.

His books include White Tribe Dreaming: Apartheid's Bitter Roots As Witnessed by Eight Generations of an Afrikaner Family (1989), which won the inaugural Alan Paton Award; The Heartbreak Grape: A Journey in Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir, which was shortlisted for Governor General, Julia Child and James Beard awards; and Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource (1999), for which he received the Governor General Award. With his wife, Sheila Hirtle, he co-authored Blood Traitors (1997); Into Africa: A Journey through the Ancient Empires (1997); Sahara: A Natural History (2002); and Sable Island: The Strange Origins and Curious History of a Dune Adrift in the Atlantic (2004), winner of the Evelyn Richardson Memorial Literary Prize for Non-fiction. They also co-wrote Timbuktu: Africa’s Fabled City of Gold (2007). Witch in the Wind: The True Story of the Legendary Bluenose (2007) also won the Evelyn Richard prize, along with the Dartmouth Book Award for Non-fiction. This was followed by a series of books about the environment: Dangerous World: Natural Calamities, Manmade Catastrophes and the Future of Human Survival (2008); Our Way Out: First Principles for a Post-Apocalyptic World (2011); and Back to the Well: Rethinking the Future of Water (2016), which was shortlisted for the Donner Prize for Best Public Policy Book by a Canadian, as well as the Evelyn Richardson Prize. His most recent title is Hell and Damnation: A Sinner’s Guide to Eternal Torment (2019).

In addition to his own books, he has ghost-written several autobiographies and was the scriptwriter and on-screen narrator for Water Water, a three-hour miniseries adaptation of his book Water, broadcast on the Discovery Channel.

In 2010, Marq de Villiers was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to social and political discourse. He holds an honorary degree with Dalhousie University and lives in Eagle Head on Nova Scotia’s south shore.


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de Villiers, René (1910-1992)

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René de Villiers is Marq de Viller's father.

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