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Harry Kenneth Thurston was born 3 March 1950 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to Kenneth Alvin and Elizabeth Madeline (Gillis). He graduated from Acadia University with a BSc in Biology in 1971 and married Catherine Rideout the following year; they have one daughter, Megan Ruth.
An avid naturalist, Thurston's literary work often concerns nature and environmental issues. As a freelance writer, editor, poet and playwright, his work has appeared in magazines, literary periodicals and anthologies, including The Dalhousie Review, Fiddlehead, Reader’s Digest, National Geographic, The Atlantic Anthology: vol. 2 Poetry, and We Belong to the Sea, a Nova Scotia Anthology. He has also been a field correspondent and contributing editor to Equinox (1982-1999); a writer-in-residence at Acadia and St. Mary’s universities; a visiting writer at Mount Allison University; and a teacher in the journalism programme at the University of King’s College. From 1977-1981 he edited and published Germination, a quarterly poetry periodical.
Thurston is the author of books of poetry and prose. He has been awarded various literary awards and honours, including the Sigurd Olsen Nature Writing Award (2005); the Evelyn Richardson memorial Literary Award (1991, 1997, 2004); the City of Dartmouth Book Award (1994); and the Atlantic Bookseller’s Choice Award (1991). His magazine-published works have garnered him the Author’s Award (1982, 1987); the National Magazine Award (1983); and the Canadian Science Writer’s Association Science and Society Award (1986, 1987).
Thurston resides in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.