Lilly had lived in three countries by the time she arrived in Canada. She had just turned 17 and didn’t speak a word of English. Yet, just a few years later, she was studying philosophy and English literature at the University of Toronto, while already married to Canadian composer/conductor Milton Barnes. Together, they headed for Vienna to complete their studies.
After their first son was born, Lilly had an intense desire to bring him up in Canada and, after they returned to Toronto, she wanted to stay at home to do it. (“I wanted to give him the childhood I never had”) So she became a script writer working from home and an arts journalist for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) By the time their second son arrived, Lilly had also begun to write fiction.
When she was ten, Lilly found out that she was half Jewish and when she was 30, she learned that she was a baptized Catholic. “Neither of them “took”, she says now, “but I certainly feel well-placed to fight against wars and against racism of any kind.” Which she did – whether by way of writing, of demonstrating, or, if necessary, of going to jail. (Well, says Lilly, that was only for a long week end and it was nothing like being a black person in jail without recourse to media or lawyers.)
Her two sons, Micah and Daniel, are both musicians.
Lilly lives in downtown Toronto, in an old house filled with stories and music.