Who Is?

Marq de Villiers, a day after learning that he and his magazine had been sued for $103 million … The hair’s a little grayer now.

Marq de Villiers is a journalist and author who never found a real job and so just kept on writing, a few million words by now, for newspapers, magazines and books (14 and counting, with a few ghost-writing gigs tacked on). Along the way he has lived in some interesting places (Cape Town, Moscow, Asturias in northern Spain, London and a short stint in Timbuktu), picked up a few awards (among them the Alan Paton Award for writing about South Africa, a Governor General’s Award for Non Fiction for his first book on Water and another GG short-list for an appreciation of pinot noir, plus the Canadian Science Writers Association Award and a nod from the Julia Child and James Beard awards for literary food writing) and, not incidentally, married the art director and editor Sheila Hirtle, who has saved his ass on numerous occasions with pointed advice and sometimes ruthless editing.

What else?

  • He picked up a degree or two, including a diploma from the London School of Economics, where his time overlapped with Mick Jagger, who wouldn’t remember him for a second. He studied with Leonard Schapiro, whose masterwork, Soviet Government, served him well as foreign correspondent in later years.
  • He speaks, not always very fluently, a pot pourri of languages other than English, including Afrikaans and Flemish, has a reading knowledge of Dutch and some now very rusty Russian.
  • He taught for a number of years at Ryerson in Toronto and later at Dalhousie in Halifax, and some of his students are now doing better than he is, which is obviously a Good Thing, isn’t it?
  • His fondest “achievement” is not even an achievement of his own, but belongs to Josh Jensen, whose Calera winery makes outstanding California pinot noir, who has named a 15-acre parcel the “De Villiers Vineyard”.


  • 1962-68 Reporter, the Toronto Telegram; editor, Reuters, London; and senior feature writer, The Cape Times, Cape Town
  • 1969-71 Moscow correspondent, Toronto Telegram, and resident bureau chief for Look and Venture magazines, reporting from most parts of the Soviet Union and East Europe
  • 1971-78 Freelance magazine writer and contributing editor, Weekend Magazine, Montreal
  • 1979-81 Executive Editor, Toronto Life magazine
  • 1981-92 Editor, Toronto Life
  • 1992-93 Publisher, Toronto Life
  • 1993-04 Editorial Director, WHERE Magazines International, Los Angeles
  • 1987-present: Author of non fiction books