Graeme Gibson, the Canadian author, conservationist and longtime champion of writers’ rights, has died at the age of 85.
“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,” Margaret Atwood, Gibson’s longtime spouse, said in a statement Wednesday issued by publisher Penguin Random House Canada.
“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 cancelled this week some promotional appearances for her new book The Testaments — a sequel to her dystopian classic The Handmaid’s Tale and one of this fall’s most anticipated literary releases. The cancellation cited illness in the family.
A cover story in Time magazine earlier this month noted that Gibson was “living with dementia,” and that Atwood juggled caring for him while working on her new novel.
Along with novels and non-fiction books, London, Ont.-born writer Gibson was an activist for different causes.
A founding member of both the Writers’ Union of Canada, the Writers’ Trust of Canada and PEN Canada, he was also an advocate for conservation efforts and was a devoted birder who helped found the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.
Gibson was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1992.