Biographer and poet Rosemary Sullivan (1947) is a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto. Her 14 books include the critically acclaimed Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape and a House in Marseille and Labyrinth of Desire: Women, Passion and Romantic Obsession. Shadow Maker, her biography of Gwendolyn MacEwen, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction. She has been the recipient of Guggenheim, Trudeau, and Jackman Fellowships and was awarded the Lorne Pierce Medal by the Royal Society for her contributions to Literature and Culture. In 2012 she became an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Sullivan was born in the small town of Valois on Lac Saint-Louis, which is located just outside Montreal, Quebec. After graduating from St. Thomas high school, she attended McGill University on a scholarship, and earned her Bachelor's degree in 1968. After she was married in 1968, she then attended the University of Connecticut where she earned her M.A. in 1969. Finally Sullivan attended the University of Sussex earning her PHD for her thesis The Garden Master: The Poetry of Theodore Roethke in 1972.
After completing her post secondary education, Sullivan moved to France to teach at the university of Dijon, and later at the University of Bordeaux. Two years later she was hired at the University of Victoria, and then in 1977 at the University of Toronto, where she has taught ever since. In 1978, Sullivan decided to dedicate herself to her writing, while still teaching at the University of Toronto. She is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto.
Rosemary Sullivan is a celebrated critic, editor, poet, and biographer. She writes "wisely and sensibly and well." Her first collection of poetry The Space a Name Makes, was awarded the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry published in Canada in 1968. In 1987 Sullivan began writing a biography on Elizabeth Smart, titled By Heart, which was later published in 1991 by Penguin Books. Sullivan soon realized she had a passion for biographies, and in 1995 Shadow Maker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwen was published. Shadow Maker won numerous awards, including the Governor Generals Award for Non-Fiction, the Canadian Authors’ Association Award for Non-fiction, the President’s medal for Biography, University of British Columbia, and the City of Toronto Book award. Then in 1998, The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out was published.
Aside from her writing career, Sullivan has been working with Amnesty International since 1979, and in 1980 founded a congress to aid Amnesty International. Sullivan has also traveled all over the world including Russia, Czechoslovakia, Cuba, Chile, and Nicaragua.
Sullivan's first collection of poetry, The Space a Name Makes (1986), was awarded the Gerald Lampert Award. Her biography of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Shadow Maker (1995), won the Governor General's Award.
Sullivan was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012. In 2015, she won the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for Stalin's Daughter, her biography of Svetlana Alliluyeva.