Barbara Lambert was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley, studied at the University of British Columbia, married a fellow student and raised three children while writing fiction and establishing a Vancouver business in textile design. Her written work (including the winner of the 1996 Malahat Review Novella Prize) has been published in a variety of literary magazines, and in the Journey Prize Anthology.

Lambert's story collection A Message for Mr. Lazarus was chosen by The Globe and Mail as a notable book of the year, and was winner of the 2001 Writers' Union Danuta Gleed Award for best first short story collection, and a B.C. Book Prize finalist. Her novel The Allegra Series, published in 1999, weaves the tale of a contemporary love triangle together with ancient myth and the history of textile design. [See below]

Set against a landscape where hills still shelter secrets from Etruscan times, Barbara Lambert's The Whirling Girl (Cormorant, 2012) explores the layered nature of desire, and asks what really are the conditions that foster art, or love--or the unearthing of civilization's buried stories. As a child, botanical artist Clare Livingston was enthralled by her uncle's tales of lost civilizations. Now, after years of estrangement, she has unexpectedly inherited his property in Italy. She travels to the hill town of Cortona hoping to find the meaning of this disturbing gift, left by the uncle who fled his family when she was a teen. Instead she is swept up in a world of archaeological intrigue where new friends and lovers reveal suspect aims. Her evasions lead her along a twisting path until--as even her ability to paint is compromised--she is forced into an excavation of her own complex history.

Lambert's 2021 novella, Wanda (Fish Gotta Swim $20) is set in the Okanagan at the start of WW2. A young German Canadian girl, Eva gets a new friend when Wanda, a child refugee from the London blitz, moves to her town. But Eva fears Wanda will abandon her when she learns Eva's family has been branded as German enemy aliens. It's a time when B.C.'s interior towns are rife with prejudices. The story focuses on young Eva as she grapples with the realities of guilt, innocence, shame and love for her family.

Having lived in Vancouver, Ottawa and Barbados, Lambert returned to the Okanagan Valley, where she lived on a cherry orchard, in Penticton, with her husband Douglas Lambert.

After a battle with cancer, Barbara Lambert died on October 1, 2021 at the age of 86.


Penticton B.C.

ANCESTRAL BACKGROUND: German/American/Spanish


2001: Writers' Union Danuta Gleed Award (best first collection of short fiction).

2001: Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (finalist).

1996: Malahat Review Novella Prize.


The Allegra Series, a novel, (Beach Holme/Porcepic Books, 1999) $16.95 ISBN 0-88878-399-X

A Message for Mr. Lazarus (a novella and seven stories) (Cormorant, 2000) $19.95 1-896951-22-8

The Whirling Girl (Cormorant, 2012) $22 978-1-77086-093-3

Wanda (Fish Gotta Swim, 2021) $20 978-0-9780054-7-4

[BCBW 2021] "Fiction"