Katherine Ashenburg is the 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 important prizes. Her latest 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.