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Atwood, Margaret.

LETTERS: Margaret Atwood - Greg Gatenby.


Margaret Atwood - Greg Gatenby Archive
Twenty-five years of correspondence between Margaret Atwood and Greg Gatenby, her friend, neighbor, and for many years administrator of the Harbourfront Reading Series. Atwood writes, over time, notes and letters short and long; sometimes responding perfunctorily to a professional query, other times discoursing on motherhood or on the writing life; still other times simply sending holiday greetings or inviting Gatenby to the annual party thrown by she and her husband. Gatenby's side of the correspondence, more voluminous than Atwood's, bulks to professional solicitations (on behalf of Harbourfront as well as for his own anthology publications; he also acted as intermediary for a number of friends who requested Atwood's participation in events); and lengthy detailed communications about his life, work, and health. Atwood's contributions to this archive break down as follows:
  • 13 TLS, 2 TL
  • 17 ALS/APS
  • 10 form letters (some are photocopies)
  • 1 typed fax signed
  • 3 emails
  • 10 letters from her assistant Sarah Cooper, some with attachments
  • 1 photocopy typescript, 2 pp., "The Afterlife of Ishmael."
Also present:
  • several Gatenby letters for every one Atwood communication;
  • a file containing a couple dozen notes and letters from Atwood's husband, Graeme Gibson, to Gatenby, and even more letters from Gatenby to Gibson;
  • a few snapshots of Gibson and Gatenby.
Of the several dozen Atwood items spanning three decades, with seemingly equal distribution of communications of substance and perfunctory notes throughout, there are 10 truly wonderful letters - about her day to day life working, writing, farming, child rearing, traveling, and the like. These are dated as follows:
February 1, 1975
August 19, 1975
April 22, 1976
May 29, 1976
January 19, 1987
January 28, 1992
July 29, 1992
July 10, 1996
February 18, 1999
September 24, no year.
Gatenby has devoted his career to shaping the artistic direction of Toronto's Harbourfront Centre from 1975 onward. As literary coordinator and, later, artistic director, he organized the weekly Harbourfront Reading Series and founded the annual Harbourfront International Festival of Authors. Also a poet, Gatenby has written a number of books, several of which suggest his environmental kinship with his neighbor, Atwood, a staunch patron of the environment: Whale Sound: An Anthology Of Poems About Whales And Dolphins (1977) and its successor, Whales: A Celebration (1983), which includes prose, art, and music; The Wild Is Always There (1993) and The Very Richness Of That Past (1995). The Salmon Country (1978) and Growing Still: Poems (1981).

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