Dr James Acheson farewell

The English Department is sad to farewell a much-respected former colleague, Dr James Acheson, who passed away on 11 November.

James will be missed for his many contributions to scholarship, and for his many personal qualities as a warm and sincere colleague, friend and family man.

Originally from Canada, James travelled from Britain to join the department in 1973 and spent the next three decades developing a reputation as one of the foremost specialists on Samuel Beckett amongst expertise on other contemporary novelists and poets.

James was an engaged academic in fields of contemporary and Twentieth-Century literature, influencing and supporting many cohorts of students over the decades he taught within the discipline, and helping to nurture many theses to successful completion.

Many of those currently in the department fondly remember the formative impact of his enthusiasm and gentle mentoring.

He was always generous with his time and support, both to his students and colleagues; this was a quality that he continued after he took retirement in 2004.

While he often deflected attention away from himself, James was a scholar of significant international reputation, and this scholarship continued after he retired from the department.

In a varied publication career, he penned a significant volume of books and articles, including several influential studies on Beckett, John Fowles, and Virginia Woolf, was on the editorial board of a number of international journals, and was a successful editor of many collections of essays on contemporary fiction and poetry.

It is a testament to his personal warmth and reputation that so many prominent critical writers in the field were drawn to collaborate with him.  At the same time, James kept a keen eye on early-career writers, and was generous in giving them support in his edited projects.

The department and wider academic community offer our condolences to his wife, Carole, another former colleague; daughters Helen and Sophie; and grandchildren Caspar and Toby.