I met Ellen Levine in person once after spending a good deal of time on the phone with her. We had a drink at a hotel before BEA in 2010. We talked a bit about her manuscript—which would become In Trouble—and, I suspect, about politics and bookmaking. During that conversation, and in the dozens of phone and email exchanges that followed, I got to know Ellen as the witty and wise force of nature I imagine many others knew her to be. And even when she told me she had cancer, she seemed so indomitable that it was difficult to imagine I wouldn’t have the chance to repeat that meeting (to say nothing of editing more of her books). But that’s not how life works.
Ellen passed away on Saturday after a nearly two-year battle with lung cancer. She is survived by her wife, Anne, her partner of more than 40 years. Please keep Ellen’s family in your thoughts.
PS: One of the best epitaphs I've ever read was the one Yeats wrote for Swift. I can't help but think it applies to the Ellen I knew:
SWIFT has sailed into his rest;
Savage indignation there
Cannot lacerate his breast.
Imitate him if you dare,
World-besotted traveller; he
Served human liberty.