It is with a heavy heart that we must record that Dr Susan Tilby died on 3 November, in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge. (Her death was not Covid-related.) Our condolences go out to her family, and in particular to her husband Michael Tilby, whom our colleagues in French studies will also know.
Susan was for many years an editor of scholarly books and journals, credited mainly as Susan Wharton. She was an especially fine hand at bibliographies and indexes: her cumulative index to the Year's Work in Modern Language Studies was a tour de force. For volume 76 alone, for example, Susan's index ran to 66 pages in three columns, from Aalen, M., and Aaslestad, P., to Þorgeirsson, H. (You were expecting a "Z" there, weren't you?) We had an annual game whereby I would write cross-checking programs to try to catch out errors in the first proof of the index – I won if the error rate proved to be larger than last year, Susan won if smaller. It was usually Susan who won. The Year's Work was an epic undertaking to organise, too, and involved herding a great many cats, some of them strays. Susan managed the practical business of the work for many years, first with Stephen Parkinson as General Editor, and more recently with Graeme Dunphy and Paul Scott.
But many other authors also have reason to be grateful to Susan. From 2010 onwards, she copy-edited 36 books for Legenda, including some of our most ambitious: Malcolm Bowie's selected essays, in two volumes; Clive Scott's study of translation and phenomenology; the epic Festschrift for Martin McLaughlin; and most recently Joep Leerssen's magisterial history of Comparative Literature in Britain — somehow a fitting title to go out on, if one has to go out.
Susan had the wryness in adversity which sustains all great copy-editors. To give the littlest flavour of it here, when she retired from the Year's Work this spring she wrote to me saying: "I am hanging up my quill once I've put the current volume (80) to bed — not that it's even got into its pyjamas as yet."