Born in Little Long Lac, Ontario, she spent her later childhood and adolescence in Toronto. In addition to her novels, she has published three books of poetry ("I'm Walking in the Garden of His Imaginary Palace," "False Shuffles," and "The Little Flowers of Madame de Montespan."
Jane Urquhart's books have been published in many countries, including the Netherlands, France, Germany, Britain, Scandinavia, Australia, and the United States, and have been translated into several languages.
In 1992, her novel "The Whirlpool" was the first Canadian book to win France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (Best Foreign Book Award). Her third novel, "Away", remained on the Globe and Mail newspaper's National Bestseller list for 132 weeks (the longest of any Canadian book), and won the 1994 Trillium Award.
In 1994 Ms. Urquhart also received the Marian Engel Award for an outstanding body of prose written by a Canadian woman. In 1996 she was named to France's Order of Arts and Letters as a Chevalier, and "Away" was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award , the world's largest literary prize for a single work of fiction. In 1997 Urquhart was asked to serve on the jury for this award.
Jane Urquhart has been Writer-in-Residence at the University of Ottawa and at Memorial University of Newfoundland and, during the winter and spring of 1997, she held the Presidential Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the University of Toronto. She has also given readings and lectures in Canada, Britain, Europe, the USA and Australia.
In 2001 she published "The Stone Carvers", another highly acclaimed international bestseller that was a finalist for both The Giller Prize and the Governor General's Award.