my books

africantree_cover_smallThe Library Tree: How a Canadian Woman Brought the Joy of Reading to a Generation of African Children, published by Great Plains Publications, Winnipeg (

The Library Tree tells the inspiring story of Kathy Knowles who travelled to Ghana, West Africa, with her husband and children in 1991. Growing up with a life-long love of books, she invited six local children to gather in her garden and listen to some of her favourite story books. Little did she know that this small beginning would lead to the building of seven large community libraries for children, the publication of 40 photo-illustrated books for children, and more than 200 smaller initiatives around Ghana and in several other African countries.

Deborah Cowley first travelled to Ghana in 2000 when Reader’s Digest commissioned her to write an article about Kathy Knowles. She was so impressed by the project, she offered to help. Kathy took her up on the offer and since then, she has travelled to Ghana with Kathy on 15 extended visits. In this book, she tells Kathy’s story drawn from her first-hand knowledge of her project and its founder.

“… a fascinating read and a good gift for anyone interested in development work, literacy or just finding out what one determined and inspiring person can accomplish with patience and hard work.” (B.Mann)

“Deborah Cowley has made the Kathy Knowles story and her successes both enthralling and immediate. (E. Bassett, journalist)

“This is a must-read for anyone interested in literacy, Africa, and a renewed sense of hope for humanity.” (T.Morrow, journalist)

“What a great achievement! It reads like silk and diamonds!” (W. Blair, radio journalist)

“An amazing story of an amazing woman! My compliments on an entertaining and uplifting read.”
Anthony Jenkins, former Globe & Mail writer and cartoonist.

The Library Tree, in print or ebook format, can be ordered on-line at (for Canadian readers) or (for US readers).

Lucille Teasdale: Doctor of Courage
(XYZ Publishing as part of the Quest Library series, 2005)
ISBN 1-894852-16-8
Short-listed for the Ottawa Book Award (2006)

“Deborah Cowley brings a remarkable doctor back to life.”
Janice Kennedy, The Citizen.

Also available in French as Lucille Teasdale: docteur courage, Traduit par Helene Rioux (2007)
ISBN 978-2-89261-494-7
Winner of Selection Communication Jeunesse (2008)

Lucille Teasdale was one of the first women in Quebec to become a surgeon. In 1961, she travelled to northern Uganda with her husband, Dr. Piero Corti, where they helped found Lacor Hospital outside Gulu.  For three decades, she lived and worked through civil war, epidemics, hostage-takings and massacres. Before the world knew about HIV, she contracted the virus while operating on a wounded soldier. She died of AIDS in 1996.

Purchase from University of Toronto Press, E-mail:

Georges Vanier: Soldier
The Wartime Letters and Diaries 1915-1919

(Dundurn Press 2000)
ISBN 1-55002-343-8

These wartime letters from the young man who would become Canada’s greatest Governor General are a revelation in their passionate nationalism. Beautifully edited by Deborah Cowley, they are also a moving confirmation of the idealism and nobility of Georges Vanier in the midst of all the carnage of the First World War.”
John Fraser, Master of Massey College

The gallant Vanier’s letters and diary entries are remarkable in their prose and passion. Whether he wrote about stunning sunsets or death in the trenches of the First World War, his words are gripping.”
Paul Jackson, The Calgary Sun, March 26, 2002.

This well-known author and broadcaster, Cowley has compiled a unique military history that includes first-hand details of daily life in the trenches during the Great War. Based on Vanier’s personal observations, her book also provides insights into the triumph of the human spirit over the worst of total war.”
Sidney Allinson, Victoria Times Colonist, April 14, 2002.

Purchase from or from the author.

One Woman’s Journey: A Portrait of Pauline Vanier
By Deborah Cowley and George Cowley with a forward by Jean Vanier.
(Novalis 1992)
Also available in large print and in French.

This book takes a retrospective look at the life, times and spiritual quest of Pauline Vanier, wife of Canada’s most loved Governor General. Through her ups and downs, she remained a woman who cared passionately about others and was an instrument of God’s love for a broken world.

In One Woman’s Journey, we see Pauline Vanier as a woman of humour, and as a woman dedicated to serving others. She tirelessly volunteered in hospitals and prisons, took soup to staff members who were ill, and carried on a voluminous correspondence with hundreds of hurting people who wrote to her for help…This book is charming for its candor about the Vaniers’ own real struggles, as well as its glimpses of the famous at vulnerable moments.”
Bob Harvey in The Ottawa Citizen February 20, 1993.

One reads this refreshing book and imagines Pauline Vanier at her best –amazonian and full of zest; ready to conquer – with an embrace.”
Donna MacHutchin in The Montreal Gazette.

Large print and small print editions available from the author.

Cairo: A Practical Guide
(American University in Cairo Press 1975)
Now in its 17th edition.

This book was commissioned by the American University in Cairo Press and is believed to be the first guide book to be published since Baedeker’s Guide to Egypt in the late 1940s. The maps, which were the first ones to list street names in the Latin alphabet, were hand-drawn by George Cowley. The book has been revised and the maps up-dated almost every year since.

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