Eleanor Ann Saddlemyer is an internationally known author, academic and expert in the field of Anglo-Irish literature and Canadian theatre history. Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, to Elsie Sarah, née Ellis, and Orrin Angus Saddlemyer in November 1932, she attended high school in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. She received her B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan in 1953, her M.A. from Queen’s University in 1956, and her Ph.D. from the University of London in 1961. She was awarded a D.Litt. from the University of Saskatchewan in 1991.
Saddlemyer taught at the University of Victoria in British Columbia from 1956-1957 and 1960-1971, when she accepted appointments as Professor of Drama and Professor of English in Victoria College at the University of Toronto. She was Director of the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama at the University of Toronto from 1971-1977, and visiting Berg Professor at New York University in 1975. In 1988, she was appointed Master of Massey College, a position she held until her retirement in 1996.
Saddlemyer has lectured extensively in Canada and elsewhere, and has served as founding President of the Association for Canadian Theatre History and chair of the International Association for Anglo-Irish Literature, as co-general editor of the Cornell Yeats series of manuscripts, founding co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Theatre Research, and is on the Editorial Boards of numerous other journals. She is currently Director of Colin Smythe Limited, Publishers and is a Corresponding Scholar of the Academy of the Shaw Festival.
She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1976 and the Royal Society of Arts in 1987. In 1995, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. She has received several awards for her scholarship including the M.L. Rosenthal Award from the Yeats Society of New York, the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, and holds five honorary doctorates from universities across Canada. In 2013, she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Association for Theatre Research.
Ann Saddlemyer is the author of many works including Becoming George: The Life of Mrs. W.B. Yeats (2002), W.B. Yeats and George Yeats: The Letters (2011), The Letters of John Millington Synge (1968), which was given an award by the British Academy, Conversations with Our Past: Stories of North Saanich (2006), Later Stages: Essays on Ontario Theatre from World War I to the 1970s (1997), Early Stages: Theatre in Ontario 1800 to 1914 (1990), Lady Gregory Fifty Years After (1987), Theatre Business, the letters of the first Abbey Theatre Directors (W.B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and J.M. Synge) (1982), A Selection of Letters from John M. Synge to W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory (1971), In Defence of Lady Gregory, Playwright (1966) and The World of W.B. Yeats: Essays in Perspective (1965), as well as numerous articles and chapters in books.
Ann Saddlemyer was a close friend of famed Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. Upon learning that he and his family were considering leaving Belfast so he could become a full-time writer, she offered him the rental of Glanmore Cottage in County Wicklow, which she had purchased in 1971 while lecturing in Dublin. His family moved there in the summer of 1972. Their time at the cottage greatly influenced his work, and in 1977 he dedicated the “Glanmore Sonnets” to Saddlemyer. In 1988, Saddlemyer sold Glanmore Cottage to the Heaneys. They remained friends until his death in 2013.