Prof. Keith Ellis

(BA 1958 UC)

Keith Ellis is a renowned scholar, translator, and critic of Latin American literature. Professor Emeritus of Latin American Literature at U of T, he specializes in poetry and short stories and is a leading authority on the poetry of Caribbean writer, Nicolás Guillén.

His teaching and scholarly careers, which have included the production of some 20 books and more than 100 articles, have brought him many distinctions, including the Canadian Association of Hispanists Prize for best academic book for Cuba's Nicolás Guillén: Poetry and Ideology. He is a recipient of the Medal of the City of Poitiers, the Andrés Bello Medal from the Ministry of Culture of Venezuela, and the Medal of the University of Havana. 

In 1988, Ellis became the first black person to be named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a peer-elected group of the top professors in the country. In 1998, he made history by becoming one of the few scholars to be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Havana.

Beyond the academy, he has served the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba; the Casa de las Americas Literary Prize; the Canadian-Cuban Friendship Association; and the Royal Ontario Museum.

In his retirement, he has produced several bilingual anthologies on the theme of integrating Spanish- and English-speaking Caribbean cultures. A winner in 1957 of University College’s Norma Epstein Award for short story, Ellis’s own poems have also appeared in anthologies and journals in various countries and in several languages.