When the English Department at Warwick University opened for business in 1965, there were five founder members: George Hunter and C.J. Rawson (who both moved to Yale) and three who stayed the course till they retired in the 1990s: Bill Whitehead, Bill Righter and myself.
Those were pioneering days. We all had to teach things we hadn't expected or weren't prepared to teach. Righter's interests, in some ways so wide, were in others highly selective - not for him the broad-brush epic and medieval foundation courses - and he contrived, with his disarming and civilised charm, to carve for himself early on a highly successful career in those areas where literature and philosophy meet, and in which he was to become an acknowledged authority.
He had, indeed, published his first and influential book, Logic and Criticism (1963), before joining the staff. As the link-man between the two departments of English and philosophy he taught courses involving both disciplines to carefully selected and highly responsive students, many of whom became stars. In other ways, too, Righter stood out among the five of us: not because he was an American (so was Bill Whitehead) but because he had Europeanised himself in the most delightfully Jamesian and cosmopolitan way. He chose to live in London, commuting weekly to Warwick. Consequently he was not always to be found at some of our more tedious meetings. He was conspicuously his own man, and was virtually able to create his own programmes in areas where he was specially qualified. He was an expert in French literature, and throughout his years at Warwick he regularly taught courses in French and English comparative literature, setting side by side, for critical analysis, pairs of poems chosen from the two languages, a technique virtually invented at Warwick. …