Obituary - George Watson, 1927-2013: People

By Reisz, Matthew | Times Higher Education, September 5, 2013 | Go to article overview

Obituary - George Watson, 1927-2013: People


Reisz, Matthew, Times Higher Education


A maverick English don who often contributed to Times Higher Education has died.

George Watson was born into a Queensland farming family in Australia on 13 October 1927 and educated at Brisbane Boys' College and the University of Queensland, where he graduated in English in 1948. He then secured a scholarship for a second degree in English at Trinity College, Oxford (1950), where he was greatly impressed by the teaching of C.S. Lewis.

A talented linguist, Mr Watson spent much of the 1950s working for the European Commission, both as an interpreter and checking the different versions of its publications. He stood as an unsuccessful Liberal parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham in the 1959 general election.

In the same year, however, Mr Watson switched to an academic career as a lecturer in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge. In 1961, he also became a fellow of St John's College, where he continued to live and work until the end of his life, even after retirement from the faculty in 1990.

In print, Mr Watson was known for his powerful polemics and for his major contributions to scholarship.

He devoted considerable time and energy (initially with F.W. Bateson) to the compilation of the massive multi-volume Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (1969-77). The Literary Critics: A Study of English Descriptive Criticism (1962) was widely used by sixth-formers and undergraduates. …

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