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This report is taken from PN Review 167, Volume 32 Number 3, January - February 2006.

Professor Derry Jeffares: An Appreciation Alasdair Macrae

I first met Derry Jeffares in 1969 shortly after my arrival from the University of Khartoum to take up a post in English Studies at the newly established University of Stirling. The renown of Derry 'The Kingmaker' Jeffares had preceded our actual meeting and he was probably the most widely known Professor of English in the world. The then Head of Department at Stirling, on being asked later by me how he had set about appointing staff to a new department, declared that, academic competence established, he looked to candidates to satisfy two criteria: one, he would not readily appoint someone who had not experienced teaching literature outside the UK; and, two, he would be reluctant to have a teetotaller on his staff. How these criteria would rate nowadays in terms of political correctness is certainly debatable but, in the event, an excellent Department came into being: intellectually vibrant, innovative, eager to engage with students, co-operative, productive, and convivial.

In 1974 Derry left the biggest Department of English in the UK and came to Stirling. The criteria were more than adequately satisfied. Having been consulted about the founding principles of the University and, prior to his arrival as Professor, acted as one of our external examiners, he knew our system and fitted in well, albeit with some misgivings. He worried that our scheme of continuous assessment was too binding on staff time and the emphasis on close reading struck him, with his biographical and historical bias, as ...


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