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Canadian author Graeme Gibson, partner of Margaret Atwood dead at 85

Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson stop on the red carpet at the Scotiabank Giller Bank Prize gala in Toronto on Monday, November 19, 2018. Penguin Random House Canada says Canadian author Graeme Gibson has died at 85. He is survived by his partner, Margaret Atwood.
Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson stop on the red carpet at the Scotiabank Giller Bank Prize gala in Toronto on Monday, November 19, 2018. Penguin Random House Canada says Canadian author Graeme Gibson has died at 85. He is survived by his partner, Margaret Atwood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Celebrated Canadian author and conservationist Graeme Gibson has died at 85, his publisher says.

Penguin Random House Canada shared news of his death on Wednesday. He is survived by his wife, writer Margaret Atwood children and grandchildren.

In a statement, Atwood said Gibson was suffering from dementia and feared further decline, and his family was grateful he had the “swift exit” he wanted.

“He had a lovely last few weeks, and he went out on a high, surrounded by love, friendship and appreciation,” Atwood said.

 

“We are grateful for his wise, ethical, and committed life.”

A co-founder of the Writers’ Trust of Canada and the Writers’ Union of Canada, Gibson also served as president of PEN Canada.

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His novels included “Five Legs,” “Perpetual Motion” and “Gentleman Death.” He was also a member of the Order of Canada.

READ MORE: Margaret Atwood writing sequel to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

In 1973, Gibson released “Eleven Canadian Novelists,” featuring his interviews with literary greats including Atwood, Margaret Laurence, Timothy Findley, Alice Munro and Mordecai Richler.

An avid birdwatcher and environmentalist, Gibson was a council member of World Wildlife Fund Canada, and the chairman of the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

He also put together two nature-inspired books, 2005’s “The Bedside Book of Birds” and the 2009 followup “The Bedside Book of Beasts.”

He shared these passions with Atwood, whom he lived with in Toronto for the last several decades. The couple also spent eight years on a farm with their daughter.

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