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Emeritus Professor Robin Alston, OBE, FSA

We are sorry to report the death, on 29 June 2011, of Emeritus Professor Robin Alston, OBE, FSA, the distinguished bibliographical scholar and philologist, who spent part of his career at Leeds.

Having obtained first degrees at the Universities of British Columbia and Oxford, an MA at Toronto and a Doctorate from London, and having taught at Toronto and the University of New Brunswick, Robin Alston was appointed Lecturer in English Language and Medieval English Literature at Leeds in 1964.  Here, he rapidly established himself as a considerable and prolific scholar in his field.  It was during his years at Leeds that there appeared the first volumes in his magisterial multi-volume series A Bibliography of the English Language from the Invention of Printing to the Year 1800.  He was also one of the founders of the Scolar Press – the first of a number of publishing ventures that he undertook – to make available facsimile reprints of early English language texts to students.  He was, and throughout his career remained, an outstanding teacher and lecturer, whose energy and enthusiasm lit up his talks.

Robin Alston gave up his lectureship in 1969 but continued to undertake some teaching in the School of English until 1976.  His later career included serving as Editor-in-Chief of the British Library’s major computerised Anglo-American Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue project. In 1990, he was appointed Professor of Library Studies in the University of London, where, in 1995, he set up the first MA in the History of the Book. Despite his traditional scholarly roots, Professor Alston became a noted proponent of information technology and information science.  A number of honours were conferred upon him, including the award of an OBE in 1992 for his services to bibliography.

A full obituary may be found in the edition of The Times published on 25 August 2011.