David Wells writes...
Professor Roy Wisbey, who died on 21 October 2020 in Cambridge aged 91, was probably the most dynamically influential figure in the history of the Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) since its inception a century previously. His multi-faceted career went far beyond the bounds of what might be expected of a successful scholar in the modern languages field, and his passing elicited tributes from those who encountered him in a whole network of capacities and disciplines. No one individual could do full justice to this range of activity. In both information and appreciation these paragraphs necessarily draw frequently on the words of others, sometimes deliberately in detailed expression, at other times no doubt unconsciously. For these otherwise unacknowledged sources the present writer expresses gratitude. All opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect any formal MHRA policy.
Roy Albert Wisbey was born on 13 June 1929 at Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, in relatively modest circumstances. His father, a self-made man, achieved success in the politics of what was then a small market town, and was notable for the award of the George Medal for bravery in rescuing victims of an air raid in Sheffield in 1941. Roy attended Bishop’s Stortford College, after which two years of National Service (1947-49) gave an indication both of the resilient personality and the communication skills which characterized the whole of his later academic career. Appointed a Chief Instructor for the Royal Army Education Corps, he was involved in parachute jumps until on one occasion he broke an ankle - ‘and my nerve failed’, he would disarmingly say. His physical stamina and mental energy immediately impressed those who met him throughout his professionally active years – at academic colloquia he would throw himself into vigorous games of table tennis with the research students present, and his regular swimming routine became acknowledged as an essential part of his life-style.
Roy’s undergraduate study at Queens’ College, Cambridge, in 1949-52, in which he achieved First Class Honours in both parts of the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos, with a focus in Part II on the whole scope of German language, literature, and history from the Middle Ages to the present which informed his later teaching career, was followed in 1952-55 by doctoral study at the University of Frankfurt am Main under the supervision of the eminent scholar Julius Schwietering. As Schwietering approached the end of his career, his interdisciplinary and broadly sociological and cultural approach to the literature of the Middle Ages as a self-contained epoch had become a major influence on the establishment of medieval German literature as a discipline in its own right rather than merely the basis of a more narrowly conceived linguistic study. His particular emphasis on the forms of Christian piety as the basis of German court poetry, developed by another of his pupils, Friedrich Ohly, who was in a junior post at Frankfurt at the time of Roy’s attendance, was the origin of the school of thought which coloured much of Roy’s own research and that of his pupils. Roy’s subsequently published thesis on the Alexander romance of the thirteenth-century poet Rudolf von Ems argued that, while Alexander is idealized in this medieval Christian romance, as a hero of pagan antiquity his exemplarity could only be qualified and limited.
His first academic appointment was to a research fellowship at Bedford College, University of London, in 1955-56, where he encountered the already legendary Professor Edna Purdie, years later recalling his youthful skirmishes with the formidable head of department as a lesson inuring him for the conflicts and rivalries inevitable in his subsequent academic career. Following two further years as a Lecturer in German at the University of Durham he began his thirteen-year appointment at Cambridge in October 1958, and after only a few months became Director of Studies in Modern Languages at Downing College. Here he later served as both Librarian and Acting Bursar. Roy’s intellectual approach as adherent of the school of Schwietering and Ohly emerged with the successful supervision during the 1960s of five doctoral students in his central field of Middle High German, who all obtained academic posts of their own. This was achieved in spite of opposition from some academic Germanist colleagues – not averse, in the German tradition, to victimizing the students of their professional rivals – who condemned what were seen as ‘theses in theology’. The same success was achieved by a further pupil’s work at Cambridge and another later in his career in London in the field of computer applications to literary works. As early as 1960, long before the computer became the norm in scientific, not to mention scholarly, areas of endeavour, Roy had recognized the potential of computing in generating tools for literary researchers, editors, and lexicographers, and proposed to the University the establishment of what a few years later became the Literary and Linguistic Computing Centre, of which he served as founding Director in 1966-71. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s he wrote numerous articles on the subject, and compiled or edited eight concordances to medieval German works of varying length and complexity, and a similar number to works or text collections in other languages. These were published in print or microfiche. At this time the mechanized generation of concordances to works of literature was far more labour-intensive than could be imagined by succeeding generations. For his research students the most obvious evidence of this engagement was his not unpersuasive suggestion that they might earn modest sums of pocket money by proof-reading the output of punched tapes generated by a mainframe computer. This task could never be described as exciting, but a further reward came in the gift of a complete concordance and word indexes to the literary works they were studying. Although in the early years the work of humanities scholars who engaged in such activity was frequently disparaged, its value was vindicated with time. Roy took this interest to a far wider and indeed international platform as a joint founder of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing of which he served as its first Chairman and later President. It was characteristic of Roy that, while driven by genuine enthusiasm to achieve distinction in this field, he always insisted that that the concordances could never be more than aids to the orthodox methods of scholarship in the humanities, never an end in themselves. When a reviewer of one of his concordances made the criticism that in addition to the concordance proper, index of rhymes, ranking list of frequencies, and finding list of verb forms, it did not also include the grammatical parsing of every word – which nowadays would be accepted as given, but at the time would probably have entailed as much work again – he robustly retorted that his productions were not intended for school children. Later in his career he continued to encourage and facilitate the work of others in the field of humanities computing, but at the same time expressed reservations about the excesses to which the uncritical insistence on computerized resources could lead, among them the neglect of books and the less desirable aspects of popular computer culture.
In tandem with all Roy’s other academic activities, for an astonishing 41 years he was continuously engaged in the management of the MHRA, showing in the wider arena of English and all the modern foreign languages combined the same charismatic collegiality as in his immediate sphere of German studies. Following three years as Honorary Secretary, in 1963 he became Honorary Treasurer. He was probably unique among humanities scholars at the time in interpreting this role as that of financial manager. He at once established the model of production for the house journal, the Modern Language Review, together with the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature and The Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies. These publications, for long associated with the MHRA but printed and published by Cambridge University Press, were taken back in-house, together with the substantial runs of back volumes. Roy’s innovative initiatives received encouragement and support from the then Chairman of the MHRA Committee, the larger-than-life figure of Dr Stanley C. Aston, Bursar of St Catharine’s College. Charging realistic prices, especially for the back volume runs, to the then rapidly expanding academic library sector, but with generous discounts to individual MHRA members, and taking advantage of its tax-free charitable status while drawing on the expertise of specialist charity investment managers, Roy generated income sufficient to launch an entirely new journal, Portuguese Studies (1985), and to take over Austrian Studies and relaunch it as a journal towards the end of his term of office; while other journals produced under the aegis of other small societies were always willingly supported. Co-operation with other bodies was always at the forefront of his thinking, and from 1978 the Association financed the publication of the quarterly Slavonic and East European Review on behalf of the University of London School of Slavonic and East European Studies (subsequently integrated into University College). Editorial teams were built up from the best available talent, and requests for clerical support or teaching relief always generously supported. A major pillar of the publishing enterprise was Roy’s Austrian wife Ernestine Josefine Birochs (Erni), whom he had met while on an exchange visit to Vienna. A trained accountant with financial and administrative skills and rigorously high standards, she was appointed to the salaried post of Assistant Treasurer. Erni was able to build up the accounting, bookkeeping, and organizational basis of the operation from its foundations. She was an admirable complement to Roy’s vision and to his commercial and team-building skills, and served with him throughout his whole tenure of office. The importance of Erni’s role with her overall financial acumen, which because of her lower profile the majority of Roy’s academic colleagues never fully appreciated, cannot be overstated.
The printing of the journals and books was carried out by W.S. Maney & Son Ltd, a medium-sized family-run printer in Leeds, which had already distinguished itself for the quality of its academic publications, and with the passing years moved from the now historic methods of hot-metal typesetting to digital production. The greatest pride of its long-serving Managing Director, Stanley Maney, was the award of an Honorary M.A. degree by the University of Leeds for his services to academic printing, in which his partnership with the MHRA was a major component. As the operation grew larger, it was agreed to make Maney’s the publisher as well as printer, distributing the publications from Leeds. Erni Wisbey was substantially involved in organizing the new arrangements in Leeds, which led to the MHRA becoming Maney’s major customer. After some years the volume of files stored at home became overwhelming, and Roy would joke that this was a factor in their early 1970s move from Nightingale Avenue to Luard Close, nearer the centre of Cambridge, where they passed the rest of their lives. Roy was always convinced that quality products would find a ready market, and by the time he left office in 2001 a club for gentleman-scholars, with about £3,000 in the bank, had been transformed into a small academic publisher with assets of well over £3 million.
While the publication of the journals and yearbooks formed the backbone of the whole MHRA operation as a group of regular quarterly and annual commitments, Roy’s intellectual approach to the publishing enterprise was reflected most strongly in Publications of the MHRA, a prestige series of wide-ranging occasional book publications all strongly anchored in text-based historical scholarship. Beginning in 1969 with a volume of essays delivered by a number of eminent speakers at a specially convened Jubilee Congress celebrating the Association’s fiftieth anniversary, the fourteen very varied books produced during Roy’s Treasurership included, besides other major bibliographical and compilatory works, and focused essay collections, Illustrated Medieval Alexander-Books in Germany and the Netherlands, by D.J.A. Ross (1974); Traditions of Heroic and Epic Poetry, edited by A.T. Hatto and J.B. Hainsworth (2 volumes, 1980, 1989); and The Eadwine Psalter, edited by M. Gibson, T.A. Heslop, and R.W. Pfaff (1992). The series was also notable for a monumental lexicographical enterprise, the Anglo-Norman Dictionary, edited by L.W. Stone, T.B.W. Reid, and W. Rothwell (1977-92), compiled under the aegis of specialists of the Anglo-Norman Text Society. Both this society and the MHRA exemplified the links between English and French and had many members in common, some having served on the executive bodies of both organizations. With characteristic ingenuity, Roy organized the publication in seven fascicles over the fifteen-year period, thus simultaneously aligning the production model with that of the periodicals and establishing a disciplined work schedule for the academic compilers. It was perhaps ironic that later revisions of the work were overtaken by advances in the computer technology which Roy had, a generation earlier, embraced for its support of other scholarly concerns. Also produced from 1970 until Roy’s retirement in 2001 were 55 volumes in the series MHRA Texts and Dissertations, established with the specific aim of assisting young scholars to launch their publishing careers; his readiness to reach out to other societies and institutions in areas where competition would be ludicrous was again shown by co-operation in jointly publishing the Germanic titles with the University of London Institute of Germanic Studies, which had established its own similar series, also printed by Maney’s. In 1971 was launched, again in close collaboration with Maney’s, the publication for which the MHRA has become best known in the wider world of scholarship, the MHRA Style Book, the fifth edition of which (1996) after many regular revisions to take account of changing practice and online publishing, was succeeded in 2002 by the MHRA Style Guide, reflecting the move to simultaneous print and online publishing. By the time of Roy’s death this was in its own third edition, freely available online, besides selling 50,000 printed copies.
Roy’s entrepreneurial approach to the dissemination of scholarship was always accompanied by the concern that the physical appearance of a publication and its proof correction to as near perfection as possible should receive the same attention as the overriding need for the intellectual content to have enduring worth. A good book has an aesthetic value concomitant with its intellectual matter, and the design and appearance of books published by the MHRA, both on printed page and in binding, ought to reflect the quality of their content. In this regard he was aided by Committee members knowledgeable in the history of book production and binding, and fully supported by Maney’s, who published occasional high-quality books under their own imprint. Even so, as time passed, with his knowledge of the significance of computers in the humanities, Roy was able to accommodate to the growing presence of online publication and adapted the production model accordingly.
His reinvention of the MHRA as a publishing organization appears to be unique among small learned societies at the time. The energies of his predecessors on the Committee had been primarily directed to the familiar effort of increasing personal membership of the Association, and Stanley Aston had notably organized a distinct American Branch through frequent post-war visits to the USA. Roy’s tenure of office saw an inexorable change in professional attitudes from the beginning of the expansion of the universities in the 1960s. By the mid-1980s the individual membership, in spite of the regular attempts to initiate a ‘membership drive’, was in steady decline, as the younger generation of academics saw no career benefit in membership but tacitly acknowledged the success of Roy’s publishing policy by saying that the Modern Language Review was so generally available as not to be worth purchasing even at a substantial discount, or else took up too much space in the standard-size office allocated in a modern university. He took such difficulties in his stride, and never dissented from the view of his colleagues that the distinct role of the MHRA lay in its publications rather than in seeking to imitate the professional and political function adopted by the Modern Language Association of America in a similar situation. When the American Branch of MHRA finally reached the point of no return through its disappearing membership Roy as ever took a positive attitude, as always showing a balanced judgement in regard to what was or was not feasible.
For 38 successive years without a single absence, on the occasion of the presentation of the Honorary Treasurer’s Annual Report to the Committee and the following Annual General Meeting, Roy reviewed the financial results in detail for the whole ever-expanding operation. He would enumerate the sales of each periodical in its newly-published annual volume besides increasingly large back volume runs, together with a growing number of books, and the additional assets generated by the investment portfolios. These speeches became famous for their wealth of detail, not to mention their length. This necessarily increased year on year with the volume of business. When in the later years Committee members occasionally complained that the presentations went on too long they had to be told by the Chairman that that was the price you pay for being a trustee of an organization with three and a quarter million in the bank. But Roy’s personality, outgoing without being excessively effusive, and his efficiency in managing relevant agenda items, always in command of the facts yet always willing to credit the arguments of others, and above all his constant courtesy, made the quarterly Committee meetings an enriching experience. He helped to promote a continuing atmosphere of warmth and affability among distinguished specialists who, coming from quite different literary and linguistic backgrounds, lacked the rivalries of those from a similar narrower field. The spirit generated encouraged their continuing service beyond the basic three-year term of office, and was for years on end displayed in the relaxed informality of lunch at the Spaghetti House restaurant in Goodge Street following the Saturday morning meeting at University College, London.
The scope of Roy’s activity in the MHRA made him known to a vast range of collaborators beyond his own academic field.The only disruptive influences came from outside the immediate ambience of the Association from those who had little understanding of his quite selfless and energetic pursuit of scholarly communication for the benefit of the wider community. His disinterested accumulation of wealth for the dissemination of scholarship could hardly be more different from the less altruistic approach of those university managers who took to turning academic institutions into profit-making businesses. His legacy might be seen in an organization in which the relatively narrow ethos of personal membership of a club for scholars had inevitably eroded with time, but which inherited from him the financial resources to enable it, soon after his retirement from office, to take over the publication of the prolific book series Legenda, universally accessible to all scholars in the field.
In 1971, tired of the petty politics of a college in which literary studies were still dominated by the aura of F.R. Leavis, and obviously ambitious for a professorial and managerial role in his own academic sphere, Roy was appointed Professor of German at King’s College, University of London, a Chair then designated for a medievalist. Roy and Erni maintained their home in Cambridge, but acquired a flat in the appropriately named King’s Reach block across the river from the College for term-time weekday use. As Head of Department, a post he never relinquished until retirement, he took advantage of a staffing situation in a state of flux to build up the Department with a succession of brilliant scholars to the point where after a few years it was commonplace to hear expressed the received opinion among Germanist academics -- not characteristically forthcoming in praise of their colleagues -- that King’s was simply the best German Department in the country. This status was formally endorsed with the onset of official research assessment exercises in which it always received the highest grades. Any outsider who happened to visit the Department was immediately impressed in the very corridors by an atmosphere of purposefulness and energetic commitment to teaching and research. The same qualities of outreach and diversification beyond the focus of immediate and essential work which marked Roy’s management of the MHRA were reflected in his approach to teaching and research at King’s with his particular involvement in the establishment of bodies such as the Medieval German Study Group, the Centre for Late Antique and Medieval Studies, and the national German Students’ Drama Week. His energetic engagement in administrative duties notably included, besides the expected offices such as Faculty Deanship, the membership over many years of successive committees established to consider the future of the College within the changing University of London structure. More than a quarter of a century after his retirement, in an era when pre-twentieth century literature has disappeared from the modern languages curriculum in many universities and younger lecturers often appear to have renounced the canon of serious literature altogether in favour of more fashionable and politically motivated concerns, Roy would have been pleased to see that his influence at King’s is still apparent in the survival of medieval German literary studies both within the undergraduate curriculum and on a comparative basis at postgraduate level.
Together with the Chair at King’s College came conferment of the title, the importance of which was even then being overlooked by those who shared the distinction, of Appointed Teacher of the University of London, giving the right to teach and examine students of German across the University. Hence Roy’s qualities became rapidly known to everyone in the field in the seven separate institutions where German was taught, and his arrival among the last of a rather stuffy old guard which had seen its position in quite hierarchical and exclusive terms, apparently taking student numbers for granted, was widely seen as a breath of fresh air. His commitment to teaching at all levels extended to the weekly intercollegiate lectures at which students in significant numbers could be taught by a wider range of specialists than those available at the individual colleges. At the monthly meetings of the Board of Studies, which controlled the syllabus and at its height comprised 54 scholars in German studies from across the University of London, he made an immediate impression. It was becoming clear, as early as 1971, that the boom in modern languages of the 1960s had already passed its peak and that undergraduate student applicants would no longer prioritize London as long as the University maintained its insistence on a GCE O Level Latin entry requirement. With characteristic eloquence he introduced the case for the abolition of the requirement, and the sincerity of his conviction that the move was as intellectually deplorable as it was a practical necessity persuaded his colleagues to make a decisive break over an issue which might otherwise have produced years of tedious and repetitive debate.
Roy’s 23-year tenure at King’s indeed coincided, most ironically, with a period in which the academic study of modern languages generally and German in particular had entered a state of apparently irreversible decline. At the University of London Institute of German Studies of which he became Honorary Director in 1985 for a four-year stint his administrative acumen resisted the tide, even as funding rapidly diminished and the central University itself faced the prospect of attrition, by helping to persuade the funding authorities to recognize the special national role of the Senate Institutes including his own, and by setting up the National Postgraduate Colloquium in German Studies which became an established national and then international forum for graduate students to meet and discuss their research; while colleagues from across the University and further afield were treated to an apparently unending sequence of research symposia and distinguished visiting speakers from the German-speaking countries.
In comparison with Roy’s impressive output of edited volumes and material related to his computing interests his original scholarly work on German pre-courtly religious literature and the classical courtly period might seem limited in terms of pagination. It embodies the view he imparted to undergraduates, that a good article can often say in ten pages what an author with time on his hands might pad out to fill a book. Roy never had time on his hands. Yet his range of reference in, for example, his essays on the Wiener Genesis, Wolfram’s Parzival, and the portrayal of the ugly in the high and later Middle Ages, is remarkable, as the scope and diversity of traditions mediated through centuries are revealed, in the spirit of his early training at Frankfurt. The closely focused concentration of his arguments was appropriate to this intellectual context but also happily coincided with his need to accommodate his personal academic research to the extraordinary number of his commitments as a whole. His essays are repositories of truly seminal importance and remain essential reading for anyone seriously addressing the background to these works. His favourite text among the canon of courtly texts was Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan. This formed the subject of in-depth teaching at Cambridge and of an intercollegiate special subject in London, of a jointly organized Anglo-American symposium in 1986 which resulted in an impressive essay collection, and of other published essays which culminated in his Presidential Address to the MHRA. When the otherwise honorific accolade of President was conferred on him in 2003 his published lecture, ‘On Being the Contemporary of Gottfried von Strassburg’, exemplified the monumentally detailed approach to the historical and cultural background to literature of the period he had inherited from his early mentors.
Roy’s self-assurance was never oppressive, and constant respect for differing views, patience and affability meant that colleagues who came within his sphere could always accommodate to his minor foibles, and, more often than not, receive inspiration from him. What might sometimes be seen as a streak of vanity, as when he delighted to tell how a distinguished German colleague had told him that even the footnotes in his publications deserved to be expanded into books, or when he referred to his bunch of successful Cambridge research students as the ‘Wisbeyschule’, generally revealed itself to be nothing but the truth. He could be firm but was never abrasive. In Cambridge he had learned to steer his way through a minefield of collegial jealousies, and both in London at King’s and in the MHRA was able to keep detached from needless acrimony. The greatest test of these personal qualities came in the latter part of his MHRA Treasurership when some of the editors of a major publication underwritten by the Association, towards the publication of which he had personally devoted endless hours of effort during 15 years of production, aggressively engaged in a funding and copyright dispute. With immense diplomacy and forbearance Roy managed the situation with a sequence of legal consultations, letters and meetings until the unquestioned charitable status of the Association prevailed.
No one who was taught by Roy could be left in any doubt that the creative works of the great writers of the German high Middle Ages, Hartmann von Aue, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Gottfried von Strassburg, and Walther von der Vogelweide, so far from being mere texts for study, are rather monuments of major and permanent importance in the history of Western civilization, and that those of his students fortunate enough to become university teachers and pass on the knowledge of these works to pupils of their own, were participating in scholarship as a high vocation with a serious moral purpose. In the best of the German academic tradition, the school in which one’s own teachers had been trained in the discipline was a salient aspect of a good education, even for undergraduates. The present writer was privileged at Cambridge, just three years after Roy’s arrival, to enjoy his teaching over a five-year period, often on a one-to-one basis, and to leave every supervision meeting with the feeling of a kind of academic adrenaline boost. This constant encouragement was accompanied by the unexpressed but indubitable demand for the highest possible standards: first read and understand the Middle High German text, then go to the University Library and find and read the last-published critical journal article on the work in question. Unsolicited additional supervision was eagerly organized to introduce to me, and apparently to the undergraduate syllabus, the pre-courtly Early Middle High German period, hardly known in the UK beyond a handful of specialists. Research students experienced what was sometimes described as being ‘pushed in at the deep end’, and, after the usual floundering, would eventually surface to be greeted with Roy’s accolade that their writing had ‘moved to a different level’.
In his working environment Roy did not convey the impression of a man with time for hobbies, but gardening was a favourite pursuit. He was a member of the Royal Horticultural Society and regularly attended the Chelsea Flower Show. He proudly displayed the wealth of roses in the front garden of the Nightingale Avenue house and later maintained a vegetable garden at Luard Close, doing the work himself until his mid-80s. This writer, in the course of a 33-year-long association in a professional capacity, hardly ever heard Roy make a personal complaint, and if he did so, it was generally with humorously ironic detachment. Although he received numerous invitations to speak abroad, he sometimes regretted that the sheer number of his commitments left him and Erni little time for travel, for both recreational and academic purposes. He accepted the foibles of some of the older and more staid London University colleagues with expressions such as ‘elephants never forget’. After daring to speak to a student from a college other than his own about her work, he reported that his overtures had led the protective tutor to place him under suspicion of ‘contamination’. He would joke that, if as MHRA Treasurer he received a letter beginning ‘My dear Roy…’ -- he would steel himself for what was to follow. On one occasion soon after retirement, hearing that his recent colleagues had received from Senate House yet another discussion paper aiming at the piecemeal destruction of the University of London, he wistfully remarked ‘No one ever asks my opinion now’. But his commonest grievances had a wider and more profoundly ominous significance: that so many would-be scholars were apparently reworking already well-worn topics without bibliographical research of the pre-existing tradition of critical literature; that in retirement he not only did not know the names of his successors in the profession, but had also never heard the names of the purely contemporary authors they were researching; and that so many seemed afflicted with the vice of invidia in respect of colleagues. His warmth and generosity could be overwhelming, as when, following the presentation at King’s College on his sixty-fifth birthday of the Festschrift German Narrative Literature of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries -- of which, to his own amazement as much as that of everyone involved, not a word had previously reached him – he read the book into the small hours and then wrote detailed letters of thanks to the editors and contributors which radiated with the sincerity of his gratitude.
Roy was elected to a Fellowship of King’s College London in 1985. Beside international marks of recognition from academic bodies representing his interests in several countries he was awarded the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1987 and the Grand Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria in 1988.
Roy was perhaps unique in having a personality endowed with both personal, charismatic energy and constant consideration for others, while every aspect of his work combined a minute attention to detail with an unfailing quest for the highest academic standards. Everything he undertook was done with thoroughness, and went beyond what might have been expected in a given situation. The dynamism and tenacity shown in the remarkable range of his interests introduced him to a wide range of personalities beyond his immediate academic colleagues, with whom he nevertheless maintained the closest and most affable links. He might be regarded as one of the rare individuals whose personality and outlook made him bigger than what he did professionally. All this contrasted with his last miserable years when his friends and colleagues found it difficult to believe that he and Erni were in relative isolation and finally bedridden in their Cambridge home. Erni predeceased Roy by only five months in the pandemic year 2020. They are survived by a son, John, and four grandchildren.
David A. Wells
Emeritus Professor of German, Birkbeck College, University of London
Hon. Secretary, MHRA 1968-2001
Hon. Treasurer, MHRA 2001-2009