Professor Douglas Gray (Pembroke Fellow 1961 – 1980)

15th December 2017

It is with sadness that the College reports the death of Professor Douglas Gray, FBA, Emeritus Fellow. He died peacefully in his sleep on 7th December.

Professor Gray was a Tutorial Fellow in English Language at Pembroke from 1961 – 1980. He went on to become the first J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language in the Faculty of English, and held the chair with great distinction from 1980 to his retirement in 1997. During these years, he was a Professorial Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall.

Professor Vincent Gillespie, J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English, writes ‘He was one of a great cadre of New Zealanders who illuminated and enhanced English medieval studies in the second half of the last century. A deeply modest, wry, and self-effacing giant of his field, Douglas had not only read everything, but had seemingly remembered everything he had read. He wrote widely and extensively on all European medieval literatures, but especially on texts written and read in England.

Continuing to publish deep into retirement, his many books and editions included Themes and Images in the Medieval English Religious Lyric (1972); A Selection of English Religious Lyrics (1975); Robert Henryson (1979) The Oxford Book of Late Medieval Verse and Prose (1985); Middle English Literature (with J.A.W. Bennett, 1986); The Oxford Companion to Chaucer (2003); Later Medieval English Literature (2008); The Phoenix and the Parrot: Skelton and the Language of Satire (2012); Simple Forms: Essays on Medieval English Popular Literature (2015).’

The funeral will be private, but a memorial service is expected in the New Year. Please write to if you would like further information.