Editor, poet, critic, travel writer, historian, philosopher, essayist, biographer, autobiographer, political activist, university lecturer, librettist, humanitarian, gardener--George Woodcock(1912-1995) seems entitled to wear almost as many hats as there are works to his credit--which stand at somewhere between 120 and 150, not including his radio and TV plays, documentaries and speeches. He no longer wears any hats, though, having gone some fifteen years ago to that mysterious and undiscovered country, that hole where we all go and speak and write, eat and drink, no more.
In the wider world Woodcock was and is most well-known for his books on the philosophy of anarchism and its history as well as for his well-received biography, The Crystal Spirit, on his friend George Orwell. From a Canadian perspective he was a literary champion and the founder of the journal Canadian Literature in 1959, finally passing on its editorship eighteen years later. The journal was the first of its kind and it provided a much-needed place for the exploration and celebration of the works of Canadian literary authors. In 1959 I was in grade ten, in love with Susan Gregory and baseball and I had just joined the Bahá'í Faith. Fifteen years later I was living in Tasmania as a senior tutor in education studies at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. -Ron Price with thanks to Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review, Spring 2009.
You were not known to me, then,
George; my life was filled with so
much else even until just the other
day, when into the early evening of
my life when I chanced upon a short
bio-piece which introduced you to me,
to your life and work. You were born
just four months before the Master went
through southern Ontario while you were
out in Winnipeg that summer before going
to England and spending the next 35 years
and then returning to Canada to lay your
bones at the age of 82. I shall say no more
about your life, George, only to thank you
for all that you did in your years of living.
I hope to get to know you better in these
lengthening years of the evening of my life.
1 September 2009