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Charles Elliott (1919-2008)

Colleagues from the former University College, Cardiff, will be saddened to hear of the death of Charles Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Medieval English. Together with Professors Gwyn Jones and George Thomas, Charles was one of the three senior medievalists teaching and researching on Chaucer and his contemporaries. Charles himself was the expert voice on Robert Henryson and also the medieval lyric, often delivering some of the less politically correct verses of the age with a cast-iron straight face, delighting his audience but also daring them to laugh.

Like many past academics, Charles took his university role (as Superintendent of Degree Examinations) very seriously, managing the business of allocating supervision duties to the whole of the university with the kind of attention to detail that medievalists regard as a way of life. This, however, did not prevent him, with his eye for scholarly irony, from occasionally pairing staff in uncomfortable combinations. Within the English Department (as it was then) he managed the timetable with the same degree of care and sense of fair play, though sometimes giving one member of staff close to the secrets of such mysteries a more homely schedule than true medieval objectivity might justify.

The careers of former colleagues such as Charles remind us of the fine intellectual and human values that Cardiff has long represented. We do well to remember them and the traditions that they have bequeathed us. Cardiff was, and is, a place of medieval studies at their best, something Charles was proud to contribute to through his love of university teaching.

 

Martin Coyle

School of English, Communication and Philosophy