Books  |  Sep 18, 2019

Graeme Gibson, acclaimed author and celebrated conservationist, dies

We are incredibly sad to report that author Graeme Gibson has passed away. Graeme Gibson was the author of the novels Five Legs, Communion, Perpetual Motion, and Gentleman Death and acclaimed works of non-fiction The Bedside Book of Birds and The Bedside Book of Beasts.

In addition to co-founding both the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada, Graeme served as the president of PEN Canada, was the recipient of the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and was a member of the Order of Canada. A committed conservationist, he was a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada and chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. Graeme Gibson was born on August 9, 1934 in London, Ontario. For the past several decades he lived in Toronto with his partner of forty-eight years, Margaret Atwood.

On behalf of the family, Margaret Atwood said: ‘We are devastated by the loss of Graeme, our beloved father, grandfather, and spouse, but we are happy that he achieved the kind of swift exit he wanted and avoided the decline into further dementia that he feared. He had a lovely last few weeks, and he went out on a high, surrounded by love, friendship, and appreciation. We are grateful for his wise, ethical, and committed life.’

Kristin Cochrane, CEO of Penguin Random House Canada, the proud publishers of a number of Gibson's books said: ‘We are deeply saddened by the death of such a beloved and distinguished author. Graeme was a friend to several generations of Canadian writers. As a founding member of both the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada, his influence on the lives of writers in this country has been profound and far-reaching. We are grateful for that superlative legacy, one that will continue to flourish, and also for own our experiences of working with Graeme: a true gentleman, whose gracious, elegant, and witty manner touched all who knew him.’

Graeme will be deeply missed by his family, friends, the literary community and the world of bird conservation.