She is the author of seven internationally acclaimed novels entitled, The Whirlpool, Changing Heaven, Away, The Underpainter, The Stone Carvers, A Map of Glass, and Sanctuary Line.
The Whirlpool received the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Award). Away was winner of the Trillium Book Award and a finalist for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Underpainter won the Governor General's Award for English-language fiction and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.
The Stone Carvers was a finalist for the Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award, and was longlisted for the Booker Prize. A Map of Glass was a finalist for a regional Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best Book.
She is also the author of a collection of short fiction, Storm Glass, and four books of poetry, I Am Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace, False Shuffles, The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan, and Some Other Garden. Her work has been translated into numerous foreign languages.
Urquhart has received the Marian Engel Award, Calgary's Bob Edwards Award and the Harbourfront Festival Prize, and is a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France. In 2005 she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Recently, she was named the 2007 Banff Distinguished Writer.
Urquhart has received numerous honorary doctorates from Canadian universities and has been writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Toronto, and the University of Guelph.
She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the U.S.A., and Australia.
In 2007 she edited and published The Penguin Book of Canadian Short Stories, and in 2009 she published a biography of
Lucy Maud Montgomery as part of Penguin’s “Extraordinary Canadians” series.
Urquhart lives in Northumberland County, Ontario, Canada, and occasionally in Ireland.