Academic journal article German Quarterly

In memoriam Elizabeth M. Wilkinson (1909-2001)

Academic journal article German Quarterly

In memoriam Elizabeth M. Wilkinson (1909-2001)

Article excerpt

Mary Wilkinson, as she preferred to be known, died in London where she spent nearly her entire life. She taught at University College from 1940 until her retirement. She held visiting professorships at Columbia and Chicago and was one of the early Professors-at-Large at Cornell University, serving from 1967 to 1973.

The Times of London called her one of the finest scholars of German culture England has produced. "Her work shows a rare combination of historical awareness with a sensibility alive to the subtleties that enable works of art to seem to transcend history."

"On the eve of her retirement she turned down the honour that would have meant most to her, a fellowship of her beloved University College, as a protest against what she considered to be the mistaken direction the college was taking. In her later years she was alarmed by the creeping commercialisation of the academy and the promotion of theory for theory's sake. "

Her first loves were biology and history but she was lured into German by J.G. Robertson, another great British German scholar, who also persuaded her to leave high school teaching in favor of graduate work and a subsequent career at the university level. But she never lost touch with "the schools" and often remarked on the "sad" disconnect between American high schools and colleges.

Her teaching was inspired and inspiring, as was the steady flow of her published research culminating in her edition, with L.A. Willoughby, her collaborator for over three decades, in Friedrich Schiller's Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, with its elegant facing-page translation, plus commentary and glossary that are breathtaking in scope and erudition. …

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