Dr Mary Morrison
11 December 2006
Dr Mary Morrison, who died in Cambridge on 6 November after a short illness, was for many years the mainstay of Renaissance studies in the French Department at Bristol.
Having gained her PhD from Cambridge, Mary was appointed here just after the war, and retired over 30 years later, having been promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1963. Her scholarship was founded on traditional methods and skills and bore fruit in a series of articles published in the prestigious journal Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, and concerning, in particular, the poetry of 16th-century France, especially Ronsard, his sources and his standing among contemporaries, plus the neo-Latin poets of the Renaissance, somewhat neglected at the time but now a rich area for investigation.
Her other main field of activity was drama, which she taught at undergraduate and postgraduate level, and which resulted in editions and analyses of the work of Garnier, the leading French Renaissance tragedian, plus, latterly, a major study of the Italian playwright Giraldi, whom she also edited. She was an avid conference-goer who exchanged ideas freely with scholars of all nationalities, yet her very broad erudition was always worn lightly.
Mary will be remembered by pupils and colleagues at Bristol for her charm, her unfailing courtesy, some endearing eccentricities – to drink her home-made wine was a unique experience – a firm Caledonian spirit of good sense mixed with humour, and a warmth and generosity of spirit which were shared among a wide range of acquaintances and contacts. An excellent cook, she continued to entertain well into her nineties, and, though residing for her last years in Cambridge, was a frequent visitor to Bristol where she had many friends both within and without the University.
Professor John Parkin