About Dorothy Ellen Palmer

Dorothy is a mom, disabled senior writer, accessibility advocate, adoptee, retired high school Drama teacher, improv coach and union activist. Her recent memoir, Falling for Myself, (Wolsak and Wynn 2019) examines how disability and adoption combined to help her become an activist and find her birthparents. Reviewed in the Toronto StarThe Globe and Mail, and Quill and Quire, it has been heralded as both funny and whip smart. Her first novel, When Fenelon Falls, (Coach House, 2010), features a disabled teen protagonist in the Woodstock-Moonwalk summer of 1969. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in both literary and disability journals: REFUSE, Readers Digest, Broadview Magazine, Wordgathering, Canthius, Alt-Minds, All Lit Up, Little Fiction Big Truths, 49th Shelf, and Open Book. She serves on the Accessibility Advisory Committee for FOLD and the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO). She is a graduate of Western University and did her teacher training at Simon Fraser University.

Contact Dorothy. Follow her on Twitter.

From the publisher of Falling for Myself: A Memoir

In this searing and seriously funny memoir Dorothy Ellen Palmer falls down, a lot, and spends a lifetime learning to appreciate it. Born with congenital anomalies in both feet, then called birth defects, she was adopted as a toddler by a wounded 1950s family who had no idea how to handle the tangled complexities of adoption and disability. From repeated childhood surgeries to an activist awakening at university to decades as a feminist teacher, mom, improv coach and unionist, she tried to hide being different. But now, in this book, she’s standing proud with her walker and sharing her journey. With savvy comic timing that spares no one, not even herself, Palmer takes on Tiny Tim, shoe shopping, adult diapers, childhood sexual abuse, finding her birth parents, ableism and ageism. In Falling for Myself, she reckons with her past and with everyone’s future, and allows herself to fall and get up and fall again, knees bloody, but determined to seek Disability Justice, to insist we all be seen, heard, included and valued for who we are.

Learn more about When Fenelon Falls.


“Dorothy Ellen Palmer writes to ‘channel shame into solidarity, anger into analysis, denial into delight and loss into love,’ and this book – full of insight and wild humour, fierce activism and vital intersectional analysis – marks her stellar success. She calls all of us to imagine a world beyond the limits of ableism and a movement where all of us have room to move.”

Sonya Huber, author of Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System

“Dorothy Ellen Palmer’s Falling For Myself is a powerful call for a mass social justice movement that doesn’t ignore Disability Justice. Through painfully honest and laugh-out-loud storytelling, Palmer delves deep into personal, genetic and societal memory, showing us that it’s possible to uncinch ourselves from the lies we’ve been told about ableism and disability. A moving, informative and magical read.”

Farzana Doctor, author of All Inclusive

“At the very start of her memoir, Dorothy Palmer tells us that we may laugh. Fair warning. Palmer’s storytelling carries her sharp intelligence and sparkling humour throughout her reflections on a lonely childhood, living as a disabled woman in an ableist world and the costs of being an activist. This is not ‘inspiration porn.’ Palmer also does not want or need the reader’s pity. We respect her too much for that. Instead, we are moved, entertained and provoked to examine ourselves.”

Carrianne Leung, author of That Time I Loved You