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Mrs Lilias W Byrn (née Brebner), MA

We are very sorry to have to let colleagues know that Mrs Lilias Byrn (née Brebner), former Lecturer in the Department of German Language and Literature, died on 11th January 2011.

Having been a pupil at schools in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, Lilias Brebner entered the latter city’s University in 1946, to read French and German.  Hers was an outstanding undergraduate career.  At the end of her second year, she was awarded an exchange scholarship to the University of Zürich to study German and she went on to graduate from Aberdeen in 1951 with First Class Honours, having obtained first place in the Senior Honours German class.  She then qualified as a specialist teacher in modern languages at the Aberdeen Training Centre, where she was awarded the Macgregor Prize as the best graduate teacher at the end of her course.

In October 1952, Lilias Brebner returned to the University of Aberdeen as a junior lecturer in the Department of German.  She made a considerable success of her appointment, demonstrating a flair for stimulating and imaginative teaching, and taking a keen interest in the activities of the University German Club, which extended to writing and producing short plays and sketches for special occasions.  She moved to Leeds in 1956, on her appointment as Assistant Lecturer in the Department of German Language and Literature.  Building upon her success at Aberdeen, she quickly established herself as an able and skilled teacher, who went to immense pains to assist students with their academic and other problems.  She also enjoyed the esteem and friendship of her departmental colleagues.  She was promoted to Lecturer in 1958.  Her research interests centred on the life and work of the nineteenth-century Austrian novelist, Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach.  She also achieved a reputation as a capable and perceptive reviewer for publications including the Modern Language Review, and contributed to a reference book designed to assist the readers of mathematical texts in German.

Lilias Brebner served as Warden of Lupton Hall for a number of years, and gave valuable service on a number of University committees.  These included the Board of the Faculty of Arts, Economic and Social Studies and Law, the Board’s Masterships Committee, the Standing Committee on Studentships and Scholarships and the Sub-committee on Lodgings.  In addition, she represented the University for an extended period on the governing body of the Roundhay Area Advisory Panel set up by the city’s Education Committee.

In April 1968, Miss Brebner and her departmental colleague, Dr Richard Byrn, were married.  Mrs Byrn resigned from her post at the end of that year, although she later returned to the Department for a period of over two years at the end of the 1970s, in order to help with a number of the department’s teaching commitments.

Mrs Byrn is survived by her husband, and sons Francis and Godfrey.