Picture of author.

Helen Humphreys

Author of The Lost Garden

28+ Works 2,710 Members 234 Reviews 19 Favorited

About the Author

Helen Humphreys is the author of four collections of poetry & one previous novel, "Leaving Earth", which won the Toronto Book Award, was a "New York Times" Notable Book, & was published in six languages. "Afterimage" was inspired by an exhibition of Julia Margaret Cameron's photographs. Humphreys show more lives in Kingston, Ontario. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Helen Humphreys, Humphreys Helen

Image credit: Helen Humphreys

Works by Helen Humphreys

The Lost Garden (2002) 560 copies
Coventry (2008) 416 copies
The Frozen Thames (2007) 412 copies
Afterimage (2000) 285 copies
The Evening Chorus (2015) 225 copies
Wild Dogs (2004) 183 copies
Leaving Earth (1997) 133 copies
The Reinvention of Love (2011) 118 copies
Rabbit Foot Bill (2020) 74 copies
The Ghost Orchard (2017) 54 copies
The River (2015) 22 copies

Associated Works

Koalas under the Bed (1996) — Illustrator — 16 copies
STOP! and Other Stories (2003) — some editions — 2 copies


21st century (19) Britain (17) Canada (47) Canadian (100) Canadian author (45) Canadian fiction (25) Canadian literature (75) Coventry (24) dogs (24) ebook (22) England (135) fiction (367) gardening (25) grief (18) historical (40) historical fiction (215) history (62) ice (21) Kindle (21) literary fiction (24) literature (17) London (53) loss (18) love (17) memoir (18) non-fiction (42) novel (31) own (18) photography (23) poetry (24) read (28) read in 2016 (19) River Thames (20) short stories (47) to-read (173) war (33) wishlist (19) women (27) WWI (21) WWII (197)

Common Knowledge

London, England, UK
Places of residence
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Kingston-on-Thames, England, UK
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Queens University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
University of Toronto
Short biography
Helen Humphreys was born in 1961 in England and moved to Canada when she was a young girl. She was kicked out of high school in grade 10 and attended an alternative school to finish her education. Humphreys lives in Kingston, Ontario.




Harriet and Maeve first meet in Coventry on the day that Harriet has seen her young husband, Owen off to France during WWI. The two young women spend an afternoon riding the new invention of a double decker bus, enjoying the afternoon in the belief that the war will be over in a couple months. They promise to meet the next day though they have not exchanged names, but Maeve is unable to make it.

The rest of the short novel takes place on the night of November 14, 1940 during the bombing of Coventry by the Germans. Harriet, now in her 40's, fills in on fire watch at the cathedral for her injured neighbor and meets Jeremy, a young man of 22. When the bombing begins, they team up and care for one another as they move through the maelstrom, trying to decide what to do. Maeve is also in the city and is at the pub drawing sketches when the air raid begins. It is slowly revealed that Jeremy is her son. The relentlessness of the night is conveyed by excellent writing.

Maeve, Jeremy, and Helen move through that night observing death, destruction, loss, and pain. It is an exploration of private griefs, relationships born of circumstance, and threads of connection that give meaning to lives. Maeve is an artist and Helen is a writer and their observations and expressions through their art add nuance to the story.
… (more)
tangledthread | 59 other reviews | Feb 15, 2024 |
I really enjoy Helen Humphreys' writing. She has a way of putting words together that lets the reader float along, buoyant almost. My absolute favorite of her books, The Frozen Thames, offers a rich series of vignettes of, yes, the frozen Thames. It's historically informed, taking readers from one winter to another, observing the subtle changes that become huge over time.

In terms of style, Followed by the Lark is very like The Frozen Thames. The chapters are brief, the language nothing less than a pleasure. Followed by the Lark tells the story of Henry David Thoreau, opening with brief childhood and college scenes, then moving on to his adulthood. Humphreys spent an enormous amount of time with Thoreau's journals both before and while writing this book. In the book as in life (and his journals, I assume), subtle changes gradually develop into much bigger things. Followed by the Lark is written in third person and focuses on small moments: a walk with a neighbor, a search for a specific flower, an unexpected meeting with a hummingbird. The details of the natural world are ever-present. Thoreau marvels at them, and the reader sees them both through the mind's eye and Thoreau's eyes.

Humphreys' Thoreau generally holds people at a distance. He prefers silent rambles through the words and again and again bemoans the conversation his walking partners seem to view as a necessity. Over time, he finds the imperfections in almost everyone. He'll withdraw, then sometimes come a bit closer again when he sees his own imperfections, and they remind him to be more generous of spirit with others.

Fore readers looking for a "capital N" novel or a biography, Followed by the Lark will disappoint. It certainly isn't plot-driven. It's more a mood piece, an invocation and extended exploration of a way of looking at the world. There's no point where the reader begins to race through the pages, full of "what next?" questions. But when you've had enough of racing and questions reading Followed by the Lark can be an experience of a deep and comfortable peace.

I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own.
… (more)
Sarah-Hope | Jan 30, 2024 |
Helen Humphreys is one of my favourite authors. She can spin a phrase that makes you weep with the glory of it, can break your heart in a sentence, change your mood in a paragraph.
The reinvention of love is a book filled with such moments. We are taken to the France of Victor Hugo, cholera, revolutions, and Napoleon, to witness a literary competition wrapped in a love affair.
Every character is carefully explored, every moment enhanced. The story itself, centred around Charles Sainte-Beuve, pulls you along through the tides of history, stopping here and here for a dip into one literary salon or another.
It all makes me wish that I could have lived in Paris back then, smelly sewers and intrigue and all. What a magical time that was!
Let Humphreys take you for an exploration of this time and the depth of human love.
… (more)
Dabble58 | 7 other reviews | Nov 11, 2023 |
Lyrical and slightly off kilter, generous in spirit and particularly lovely to read. Like all of Helen's books, it rewards the reader.
Dabble58 | 22 other reviews | Nov 11, 2023 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors

CS Richardson Cover designer
Brigid Pearson Cover designer
Rowland Lockey Cover artist
Abraham Hondius Cover artist


Also by

Charts & Graphs