History of the School of English

History of the School of English 1916 to 1921

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William Walsh (1916-96) was appointed Professor of Education in the University of Leeds in 1957, but became the first Professor of Commonwealth Literature in the School of English in 1972, the first such position in the UK . He later (1965-7) served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor, retiring in 1981. Afterwards, he served as Acting Vice-Chancellor for some two years after the sudden death of Lord Boyle in September 1981. William Walsh graduated from Downing College Cambridge where he was a student of F.R. Leavis, with whom he maintained a long friendship. Professor Walsh's published work covered a wide range from the role of imagination in education, to the British Romantics, to contemporary Australian and Indian literature. His position gave Leeds a powerful role in the shaping of Commonwealth and Postcolonial literatures as an academic subject area. Professor Walsh's books included Coleridge: The Work and the Relevance (1967), D.J. Enright: Poet of Humanism (CUP, 1974), F.R. Leavis (1980), Introduction to Keats (1981), and Indian Literature in English (1990). He also published studies of V.S. Naipaul, Patrick White, and R.K. Narayan

John (Francis Alexander) Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006), poet, critic, and translator, was Gregory Fellow in Poetry at Leeds 1952-55. Among his often myth-inspired poetic works was Artorius: A Heroic Poem in Four Books and Eight Episodes (1973). His bibliography, The Verse Satire, appeared from Oxford University Press in 1969.


A. Norman Jeffares (1920-2004), appointed Professor at Leeds in 1956, was one the most influential critics of W.B. Yeats of his generation and author of the indispensable New Commentary On the Poems of W.B. Yeats (1968) as well as many books on Yeats and Irish literary themes including W. B. Yeats, Man and Poet; W. B. Yeats: a New Biography; Images of Invention: Essays on Irish Writing; A History of Anglo-Irish Literature; Yeats's Poems; The Irish Literary Movement; Irish Love Poems; A Pocket History of Irish Literature; and Ireland's Love Poems: Wonder and a Wild Desire. Jeffares wrote also on Congreve, Farquhar, Goldsmith, Maria Edgworth, Sheridan, Swift, George Moore, and Whitman.  Jeffares' energy also led him to establish the first chairs in Commonwealth Literature (see William Walsh) and in American Literature (see Douglas Grant) at Leeds: the first such positions in the UK .

Douglas Grant (1921-69), first Professor of American Literature in the School of English and the first such appointment in the UK , died suddenly aged 47 in Singapore . He had taught previously in Canada and was appointed to Leeds in 1960. Professor Grant's position gave to Leeds a decisive role in the establishment of the study of American literature in the UK . A critic of great range, and an authority particularly in nineteenth-century American literature and eighteenth-century English writing, Professor Grant's books included the World's Classics American Short Stories (1965), the standard edition of Charles Churchill's poems (Clarendon Press, 1956), an edition of Matthew Arnold's poetry and of Dryden's poetry (1952), a biography of James Thomson (1951), and The Fortunate Slave (OUP 1968). A selection of his criticism of American literature appeared in Purpose and Place (1965) and an autobiographical account of his time as a Marine as The Fuel of the Fire (1950). Professor Grant was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Pages in this document

  1. History of the School of English
  2. History of the School of English 1897 to 1916
  3. History of the School of English 1916 to 1921
  4. History of the School of English 1922 to date