Penguin Random House Canada president Kristin Cochrane has paid tribute to publisher and editor Ellen Seligman, who died on Friday (25th March).
Seligman, who was publisher of PRH Canada imprint McClelland & Stewart (M&S), edited some of Canada’s best-known writers, including Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.
Cochrane said she found it “next to impossible” to express her grief at Seligman’s passing. “It is too hard to come up with just the right adjective (though Ellen would of course want me to) to accurately or adequately describe the contribution Ellen made to Canadian literature.
“Readers will never know the full extent of her influence, but among the staggering list of authors she worked with (often from their very first books), they will recognize many of our country’s finest and most beloved writers: Margaret Atwood, Leonard Cohen, Elizabeth Hay, Anne Michaels, Rohinton Mistry, Michael Ondaatje, Jane Urquhart, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Peter Robinson and countless others.”
Seligman edited several of Canada’s prize-winning titles, including 23 Governor General’s Literary Award winners, 6 Scotiabank Giller Prize winners, and four winners of the Man Booker Prize. She also published authors from overseas in Canada, among them Alice Munro, Eleanor Catton and Sarah Waters, and was a "fierce champion" of poetry publishing, according to Cochrane.
She added: “It seems impossible to imagine that we will be without our beloved friend and colleague. It’s unfair and heartbreaking to say the very least. Our thoughts are with her longtime partner, James Polk; her sister, Margaret Seligman; and her family. We also know that this is an especially difficult time for her closest colleagues at M&S.”
The family will be holding a private funeral, to be followed by a public memorial. More details will be announced at a later date.