It surprised no one when S.P. Rosenbaum, confined to hospital and aware he was dying, turned to family and said: "I have a book to finish."
Work and scholarship were intrinsic and central to Rosenbaum's life, and his focus on the Bloomsbury Group - the hugely influential group of intellectuals, writers and artists who kept each other's company in early 20th century England - was a prism for nearly all his interests and amusements.
To him, working was "the sign of health, that you were functioning," his son Samuel said.
Rosenbaum - or Pat to all who knew him well - died on May 25, of complications of the heart, in a Halifax hospital. He was 83.
In the course of more than half a century in academia, he was enlisted to help organize the English department at Erindale College, now the University of Toronto Mississauga, and published numerous volumes on the Bloomsbury Group and Virginia Woolf, including the The Bloomsbury Group: A Collection of Memoirs, Commentary, and Criticism.
He also attracted attention for his discovery of the manuscript of Woolf's landmark work, A Room of One's Own. But his wife, Naomi Black, emerita professor of political science and women's studies at York University, played down the discovery.
"It was a nice thing to have happen, that's all. Other people should have noticed it. It was in some sort of ambiguous catalogue listing, and he found it."
Heather Jackson, a professor of English at U of T who first met Rosenbaum when she took his undergraduate American literature class in 1965, ranks Rosenbaum as one of the world's truly elite Bloomsbury scholars, and agrees his accomplishments dwarf that one high-profile find.
"For someone who was working on the scale that Pat was working on archivally, handling unique documents and handling unpublished documents all the time, that was a thrilling moment and it was a publishing coup, but it was not unexpected for him," Jackson said.
Rosenbaum was born on March 17, 1929, in Vancouver. His father, Harry Rosenbaum, worked in the film industry and had taken the family to Canada, but he and his wife, Dorothy, soon returned to Denver to raise Rosenbaum, his two sisters and his brother.
After completing a BA with Honours in English and general studies at the University of Colorado and a master's degree in English from Rutgers University, Rosenbaum earned a Fulbright Scholarship to study at Oxford before finishing his PhD at Cornell University in 1960.
Two years earlier, he married Black, whose father was on faculty at Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y. "I wrote my [qualifying] exams for the PhD, and we got married before I got the results. ... We had a very hectic summer," Black said.
Rosenbaum went on to teach at Cornell, Indiana University, Erindale and the University of Toronto, and was a pioneer of interdisciplinary research, veering into economics, philosophy, visual art and any other subjects the Bloomsbury Group had affected. His papers will be housed at the E.J. Pratt Library at U of T's Victoria University.
He had a serious demeanour, and was somewhat private and solitary, but could be gentle and warm with his children and grandchildren. At the head of a class, he was lively, entertaining and enthusiastic, former students say.
He loved teaching, and "would try to outrage you," said Linda Hutcheon, professor of English and comparative literature at U of T, who took his graduate Bloomsbury course. "He wasn't someone who mollycoddled you."
Both he and Black boasted strong personalities, and sparred with one another intellectually, even at gatherings when Rosenbaum would invite his students to his house for more informal debate and discussion.
"It wasn't as though they were quarrelling. They were having fun," Jackson said. "It was quite an eye-opener to young students, I must say."
Not an especially social person, his closest friends were colleagues. At the family cottage in Nova Scotia, he spent hours on end enjoying the view, and wasn't much for hobbies. "He wanted to try to be a bit of a boater, but that didn't succeed," his son Samuel said fondly. "He wasn't really born to be a naval person." But in his mid-60s, he took to Taoist Tai Chi, relishing its physical and meditative benefits.
Six chapters into his latest book - about the Memoir Club, a selection of Bloomsbury members who met once a month and read each other memoirs they had written - Rosenbaum died after a short illness that confined him to hospital for about 10 days.
He leaves his wife, Naomi Black, daughter Susanna Eve, son Samuel and six grandchildren.