About Ann Walmsley

Ann is the author of The Prison Book Club, which won the 2016 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction and was longlisted for the 2016 RBC Taylor Prize and the 2016 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. Her book tells the true story of the 18 months that she spent visiting two book clubs in men’s prisons in Canada. In her career as a magazine journalist, she has won four National Magazine Awards. Born in Picton, Ontario, Ann has a degree in English Literature from Trinity College at the University of Toronto. She has been a member of six book clubs in Canada and the U.K. and founded her first book club at age nine. She lives in Toronto.

Visit Ann’s website.

Contact Ann. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

From the publisher:

An attack in London left Ann Walmsley unable to walk alone down the street, and shook her belief in the fundamental goodness of people. A few years later, when a friend asked her to participate in a bold new venture in a men’s medium security prison, Ann had to weigh her curiosity and desire to be of service against her anxiety and fear.
     But she signed on, and for eighteen months went to a remote building at Collins Bay, meeting a group of heavily tattooed book club members without the presence of guards or security cameras. There was no wine and cheese, no plush furnishings. But a book club on the inside proved to be a place to share ideas and regain a sense of humanity.
     From The Grapes of Wrath to The Cellist of SarajevoOutliers to Infidel, the book discussions became a springboard for frank conversations about loss, anger, redemption, and loneliness. The books changed the men and the men changed Walmsley.
     Written with compassion and humour, The Prison Book Club is an eye-opening look at inmates and the penal system, and the possibilities of redemption.


“Empathetic and insightful. . . . A strong case for the humanizing power of literature.”

Quill & Quire

“A lively and warm account of her eighteen months in two prison book clubs… This book is a testament to what reading together can do in prison… Walmsley shows how reading and rehabilitation can go hand-in-hand.”

The Times Literary Supplement

“Quietly captures the transformative power of literature in a tough place.” 

The Globe and Mail