The Malahat Review mourns Constance Rooke, who served as our Fiction Editor in 1982, and Editor from 1983-1992. She died on October 4th, 2008 in Toronto, after a long battle with ovarian cancer. She was 65 years old.
Connie was born in 1942, in New York City. After obtaining a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina in 1973, she moved to Victoria with her husband and fellow writer/editor, Leon Rooke. As well as being Editor of The Malahat Review, she taught in the English department at the University of Victoria for two decades, and was the first Chair of the Women’s Studies Department. In 1988, she accepted a professorship at the University of Guelph. That same year, she and Leon began the Eden Mills Writers’ Festival, which they ran for a decade. She was appointed president of the University of Winnipeg in 1999.
In 2002, she served as the president of PEN Canada, the writers’ advocacy group, and she returned to the University of Guelph to become the founding director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. She also found time to write many important critical works about Canadian literature, and edited several anthologies for PEN, including Writing Life, published in 2006.
Connie was an author, an advocate, a literary philanthropist, and a mentor and friend to many. She will be fondly remembered, and dearly missed.