Discipline: Literature – nonfiction

Katherine Ashenburg

Discipline: Literature – nonfiction
Region: Toronto, CANADA
MacDowell Fellowships: 2007

Katherine Ashenburg is a prize-winning author of three non-fiction books and hundreds of articles on subjects that range from travel to mourning customs to architecture. She describes herself as a lapsed Dickensian and as someone who has had a different career every decade. Her work life began with a Ph.D. dissertation about Dickens and Christmas, but she quickly left the academic world for successive careers at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a radio producer, at the Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail as the arts and books editor, and most recently as a freelance writer, lecturer, and teacher.

Her first book, Going to Town: Architectural Walking Tours in Southern Ontario, won the Ontario Historical Society's award for best regional history. Her second book, The Mourner's Dance: What We Do When People Die, was a finalist for two prizes. Her book The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History is a spirited chronicle of the West's ambivalent relationship with the washed and unwashed body. She's a regular contributor to the Sunday Travel section of The New York Times and she writes a column on design and architecture for Toronto Life magazine.


Van Zorn (formerly Kirby)

Katherine Ashenburg worked in the Van Zorn (formerly Kirby) studio.

Constructed thanks to a bequest from Sarah L. Kirby, Kirby Studio was the last new building to be erected during Mrs. MacDowell’s leadership (1907-1951). The load-bearing masonry walls were laid by local mason Augustus Beaulieu atop a fieldstone foundation. A 1995 renovation preserved the brick fireplace with wooden mantel and…

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