A mentor to writers: Editor's Notes, May 2003
Published: March 28, 2003
|We were filled with sadness and a deep sense of loss when we heard the news of Sylvia K. Burack's death while we were working on this issue. The former editor-in-chief and publisher of The Writer, who was with the magazine in Boston for 60 years before she retired, was a role model for us. |
A graduate of Smith College, she came to work for The Writer in 1940. Her late husband, A.S. Burack, was editor of the magazine until his death in 1978.
Sylvia's dedication to helping writers and editors is renowned. Her notes and letters encouraging hundreds of writers are brimming with intelligence and wit. She wrote to congratulate authors on their first books or bestsellers, good reviews or awards they had received. And, of course, she appealed to each author to share what he or she had learned about writing. In this manner, she persuaded such writers as Stephen King, Mary Higgins Clark, Maeve Binchy and many others to write for the publication, thus creating a wonderful writing community.
Her accomplishments outside the magazine were many. She raised three daughters, was a trustee for the Massachusetts college system and president of the Friends of the Boston University Libraries. The library at Brookline (Mass.) High School is named after her.
Liz Preston, the former managing editor, who worked with Sylvia for 23 years, writes:
"I was always impressed with the care and concern Sylvia showed young writers--as well as those long in the game--who came to her for advice. Many of them would make a pilgrimage of sorts to our office, just to meet the legendary editor and soak up the library-like atmosphere. She would drop what she was doing and make them feel as welcome as a family member--and in so many cases she did regard her writers as family. And no one--no one!--could write letters the way she did. I know several experienced writers who have saved every one of her letters ... and dip into them from time to time for inspiration."
As Editorial Board member James Cross Giblin writes in his tribute to Sylvia, she was a tough, smart editor, a caring mentor and a spirited human being.
Sylvia K. Burack's indomitable and generous spirit touched writers everywhere. We will miss her.