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Stanley William Taylor, 1921-2010

Stanley Taylor

Stanley Taylor

13 September 2010

Professor John Parkin remembers a former fellow academic in the Department of French.

Stan Taylor, who died this summer after a short illness, was unique among the staff of French lecturers in Bristol in that it was here that he completed both his undergraduate degree (a first in Single Honours French with Latin subsidiary awarded in 1949) and his doctorate (a thesis on Péguy and Contemporary Idealism, presented in 1957 and accepted the following year). Born in Canada in 1921, Stan came to Britain as a small boy with his family and after schooling worked briefly in the Civil Service before entering the Fleet Air Arm early in World War II and surviving lengthy and hazardous duties, particularly in convoy escort work in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. 

Taking up his studies in 1946, Stan married the following year and under Professor William Stewart joined the staff of the French Department in 1950. He remained a stalwart of the teaching programme, giving massive support to Stewart’s successors, Professors Grimsley and Howarth, before retiring in 1982. Concentrated particularly on poetry, his teaching was characterised by vast knowledge and intellectual experience, but also a great humanity and warmth, which made him the model personal tutor who regularly entertained students at home and took them on trips around the Bristol area. His work on the Symbolists, shared latterly with Mr Richard Hobbs, helped to feed the long series of conferences on Literature and the Visual Arts which still continue.

Other contributions included his tireless administrative work – with the McInnes Club, the Knowlson Trust and the University’s courses for servicemen which for some years he organised – and his publication, along with Dr James Macqueen, of University & Community, a set of essays from 1976 marking the centenary of University College, Bristol. This is not to forget the Department itself, where, as senior lecturer, he undertook a wide range of responsibilities. 

A fine family man who is survived by his wife Pat and five children, Stan also cultivated an ample range of interests including yachting and navigation, classical music (above all opera), travel, gliding and the gourmet areas of food and drink (he was an excellent cook and an appreciator of fine wines, liberally bestowed on his wide circle of friends). All of them, including those who worked with him and the many whom he taught, will remember this impeccable host, this great friend, this admired intellectual and commendably strong, but essentially gentle human being.


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