Ellen Seligman, one of the most influential and exacting editors in Canadian literary history, whose judicious judgment helped shape the work of generations of Canadian writers, died on Friday in Toronto.
Her death was confirmed by Kristin Cochrane, president and publisher of Penguin Random House Canada, where Seligman worked as the long-time publisher of McClelland & Stewart.
“All of us lucky enough to work with Ellen will have been inspired by the energy, creativity, elegance, and intelligence she brought to everything she did,” said Cochrane in a statement. “She was a generous colleague and collaborator. She worked to the highest of standards, raising the game for everyone around her, all the while sharing her love of publishing.”
Seligman’s career began in her hometown of New York City before she moved to London, England and finally to Toronto and McClelland & Stewart, her home for nearly four decades. During her career she was known to be unfailingly loyal to her longstanding authors and ceaselessly willing to help her younger writers begin their own literary journeys. She was admired in publishing circles well beyond the country’s borders, and though they may not have known it, by readers around the world through many of the great novels to emerge from Canada since the late 1970s.
In her adopted country, where the literary world is a small and intimate one, her loss will be especially significant. Author Andrew Pyper once tweeted, “A neighbour has the most amazing free mags and books on the front lawn. Irresistible. Then I realize it’s Ellen Seligman’s house.”