Click here to read Rosemary Sullivan at The Canadian Encyclopedia.
Rosemary Sullivan, writer, professor, poet (b at Valois, Qué, 1947). Rosemary Sullivan’s ancestors, whom she chronicles in The Guthrie Road (2009), moved from Ireland to Canada. Sullivan attended MCGILL UNIVERSITY, where she joined Radio McGill and became interested in feminism. While at McGill she also met her future husband, poet Doug BEARDSLEY. Sullivan completed an MA at the University of Connecticut and a PhD at the University of Sussex, England. She has taught at the Universities of Dijon and Bordeaux in France, and at theUNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA. She currently teaches at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO. Sullivan has travelled extensively, and is involved in such organizations as Amnesty International and the Toronto Arts Group for Human Rights, which she founded in 1980.
Rosemary Sullivan is best known for her non-fiction, and particularly for her critically acclaimed biographies of Canadian women writers. The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out (1998) examines the formative years and early writing life of ATWOOD, through to the late 1970s. By Heart: Elizabeth Smart/ A Life (1991), shortlisted for the GOVERNOR GENERAL’S AWARD for Non-Fiction, looks at the turbulent life of one of the twentieth century’s noted Canadian writers of poetic prose. The work chronicles SMART‘s personal struggles and her passion for the written word. Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen (1995), which decodes the life of the magnetic MACEWAN, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction and the CANADIAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION Prize for Non-Fiction.
Sullivan’s other non-fiction publications include Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion, and Romantic Obsession(2001) and Cuba: Grace Under Pressure (2003), with photographer Malcolm David Batty. Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille (2006) is a powerful narrative historical work, relying on diaries, memoirs, and letters to re-create the lives of its characters in France from 1933-1941. It received the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem Award in Holocaust Memoir and Literature from the Helen and Stan Vine Canadian Jewish Book Awards, and the Different Drummer Independent Booksellers’ Award for non-fiction. Some of Sullivan’s numerous essays, articles and travel writing were collected in Memory-Making: Selected Essays of Rosemary Sullivan (2001), and she has edited several anthologies of short fiction and poetry.
Rosemary Sullivan is also an established poet. Her literary mentors were Theodore Roethke, the subject of her critical study The Garden Master (1975), and P.K. PAGE, who convinced her to start writing. Sullivan’s first collection of poems, The Space a Name Makes (1986), won the Gerald Lampert Award for the best first book of poetry. Within her third collection, The Bone Ladder: New and Selected Poems (2000), Sullivan explores the complexities and contradictions found in love and loss. One sequence is compiled like a novel: set in the Alhambra of Granada, Spain, it travels through the characters’ struggles with themselves and the world around them. The book also includes poems from her first collection as well as her second, Blue Panic (1991).
Rosemary Sullivan was awarded a Canada Research Chair in Literature at the University of Toronto and founded the school’s MA program in creative writing. She held the Maclean Hunter Chair in Literary Journalism from 2003-2006 at the BANFF CENTRE. In 2008 she was awarded the Lorne PIERCE Medal for Major Contributions to Canadian Literature and Culture from the ROYAL SOCIETY OF CANADA.
Author CHARLENE DAVIS