Canadian author Graeme Gibson, partner of Margaret Atwood, dies at age 85

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      Canada has lost one of its celebrated literary figures and conservationists.

      Author and environmentalist Graeme Gibson died at the age of 85 on September 18, as confirmed by his publishers Doubleday Canada and Penguin Random House Canada.

      He had been previously reported as having been diagnosed with dementia.

      Gibson, who was born in London, Ontario, was the author of the novels Five Legs, Communion, Perpetual Motion, and Gentleman Death. He also published the nonfiction book Eleven Canadian Novelists, and two nonfiction books about the relationship between wildlife and literature: The Bedside Book of Birds and The Bedside Book of Beasts.

      He was the cofounder of both the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the nonprofit Writers’ Union of Canada, and he was the president of PEN Canada.

      Among the awards he received are the Harbourfront Festival Prize and the Toronto Arts Award, and he became a member of the Order of Canada in 1992.

      He was also a council member of the World Wildlife Fund Canada and a chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

      He was the partner of Canadian author Margaret Atwood.

      On behalf of her family, Atwood issued the following statement: "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."

      Atwood has been scheduled to appear in Vancouver on September 26 and in Victoria on September 27 as part of her book tour for The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale.