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March 28, 2016
The Word On The Street mourns the passing of Ellen Seligman, long-time editor and publisher of McClelland & Stewart, who died this past long weekend on March 25. Seligman, one of the best-known editor of contemporary Canadian literature – indeed a force for shaping the country’s literary identity, began at McClelland & Stewart in the role of senior editor in 1978, eventually becoming fiction publisher by 2000 and publisher of M&S in 2012.
Among her many editorial achievements, she shepherded books by Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Andre Alexis, Rohinton Mistry, David Bergen, Elizabeth Hay, and dozens more from manuscript to completed book. Seligman also worked as former president of PEN Canada, established a poetry board at M&S, and was a member of the Order of Ontario.
As a festival concerned with the celebration and promotion of Canadian writing and literacy – and as a festival that has hosted many of the authors Seligman published – Seligman’s passing is felt deeply by the organizers of The Word On The Street. Not only did this native New Yorker develop the voices of so many incredible Canadian authors, she also made untold efforts to foster an audience for Canadian writing. Canadian literature is much poorer for her absence, and she leaves a hole in the publishing industry as large as the Don Valley, famously the site of a pivotal scene of one of the most acclaimed books she edited, Ondaatje’s In the Skin of A Lion. We send our sincere condolences along to all of Seligman’s family members and coworkers.
Read Quill & Quire’s tribute to Ellen Seligman here: