Cecile Engel passed away on September 6th after a long and courageous battle with cancer.
She began her studies at Bennington College, was one of the first American women to attend Science Politique in Paris and graduated from Finch College. Her passion for literature led her to found, along with Lori Milken, a publishing company that is dedicated to discovering new literary voices and bringing into print the writings of authors whose work does not fit the strict molds of mainstream publishing houses. Delphinium Books began in1986, and one inspired acquisition, a novel called Homestead by Rosina Lippi, was selected as the winner of the Pen Hemingway Award in 1999. Buoyed by this recognition, Delphinium has gone on to publish many distinguished books in a variety of genres, from a post World War II history that revealed that Jews, wanting to emigrate to the United States, were being given a lower priority than Nazi war criminals whom the state department felt were needed to help win the Cold War, to coming of age memoirs set in New Orleans and Brooklyn, a meditation on architecture by Pulitzer-prize-winning author Alison Lurie, as well as a book about government whistleblowers, focusing on Edward Snowden and Karen Silkwood, two controversial figures whose lives reveal some striking parallels.
And yet it is Delphinium’s love of fine fiction that has sustained its role in publishing and has burnished its reputation. To date the company has brought out many fine collections of short stories and novels, including the satirical best-selling The Pig Trilogy by renowned author Joseph Caldwell.
Cecile was also devoted to social issues, a passion that in part was inspired by the fact that her only sibling, Carl, was mentally challenged. Following in the footsteps of her mother, who started the New York Chapter of the Association for Retarded Children, Cecile began a junior chapter that was devoted to rehabilitating mentally challenged young adults. Later on, after she relinquished her leadership role, she was made honorary chair of her chapter for life.
She was also a passionate admirer of the choreographer and dance master Paul Taylor to whom she was introduced in the late 1980’s. In 1990, she joined the board of the Paul Taylor Dance Company and served on the board until 2014. Near the end of her term, she convinced Taylor to publish the essays that he’d been writing for the previous decade. The result was the Delphinium title, Facts and Fancies, guest-edited by Robert Gottlieb, who also wrote a forward to the book.
The daughter of Carl and Edith Schachnow. Cecile Engel grew up in Harrison New York, where she maintained a residence her entire life. Predeceased by her grandson, Corey and more recently by her brother, Carl, she is survived by her son, Christopher Engel and his wife Lisa, her son, Jeffrey Engel and his wife, Carol and her daughter, Elisa Engel Ross and her husband Jim, as well as seven grandchildren: Ryan, Lindsey, Blake, Amanda, Grant, Alex and Emily.