The Times/1930/Obituary/Israel Gollancz

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Obituary of Sir Israel Gollancz, Early And Middle English (1930)
263484Obituary of Sir Israel Gollancz, Early And Middle English1930




Sir Israel Gollancz died at his home at Shoot-up-hill, N.W., yesterday in his 67th year. He had been Professor of English Language and Literature in the University of London since 1905, and secretary of the British Academy since its foundation in 1902. He was widely known as an Early and Middle English scholar, and was the editor of several text of the period. He had published also works of Shakespearian criticism. He was an active as a member of various learned societies, having been chairman of the Shakespeare Association and from 1910 to 1922 president of the Philological Society; and tool in addition a leading part in the movement for a National Theatre, being honorary secretary of the committee recently appointed to draw up a scheme for a National Theatre in London.

Born on July 13, 1863, the younger son of the Rev. S. M. Gollancz and brother of the Rev. Professor Sir Hermann Gollancz, Israel Gollancz was educated at the City of London School, University College, London, and Christ's Church, Cambridge. He was appointed Quain English Student and Lecturer at University College, London in 1892, and held that post until 1895. In the following year he was made the first University Lecturer in English at Cambridge, having lectured on English at the University for some years previously in connexion with the movement for a school of English there. He was appointed to the chair of English Language and Literature at King's College, London in 1905. The English Department in the University of London was then in course of development, and Professor Gollancz found himself obliged to resign his post at Cambridge not long afterwards. He received on that occasion warm commendations of is work for English scholarship in the University, of which he took just then the degree of Litt.D. Gollancz raised his department in London University from meagre proportions to its present position in the academic world, and he inspired thousands of students both by his teaching and by his personal encouragement, It was due to his energy, too, that the British Academy found last year a home of its own in Burlington-gardens. He was active in the varied work of the Academy, and also in securing the foundation of the Cervantes Chair of Spanish and the Camoens Chair of Portuguese in King's College, London.

In 1910 Professor Gollancz and the late Mr. Sidney Ball of St. John's College, Oxford were awarded the first Albert Kahn Travelling Fellowships. Later recognition of his rank as a scholar came with his election in 1919 to corresponding membership of the Royal Spanish Academy, and in 1927 to corresponding membership of the Medieval Academy of America. He was also an honorary freeman of the Stationers' Company, hon. director of the Early English Text Society, and Leofric Lecturer in Old English, University College, Exeter.

As an English scholar and textual editor Professor Gollancz was industrious in collation, ingenious in amendment, and enterprising in suggestion. His texts are not impeccable, and on occasions his cleverness perhaps exceeded his judgment, but he was in the front rank of workers in an obscure and difficult field, where learning needed to be joined with enthusiasm. His first text of "Pearl" was published as early as 1891, and with later editions in 1918 and 1921 he made that poem his own. There followed, in 1892, Crynewulf's "Christ," and in 1895 the "Exeter Book of Anglo-Saxon Poetry." More recently Professor Gollancz had edited "The Parliament of the Three Ages" and "The Caedmon Manuscript of Anglo-Saxon Biblical Poetry." This last work was published in folio form for the British Academy, in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of incorporation. In the introduction Sir Israel Gollancz gave the first authoritative account of the manuscript, one of the most important monuments of early English literature, and the whole edition fulfilled both his own long-cherished wish and a general want. Sir Israel's Shakespearian publications included "Hamlet in Iceland" (1898), "The Book of Homage to Shakespeare" (1916), and "The Sources of Hamlet" (1926). He was editor also of the Temple Shakespeare, 1894-96.

Sir Israel was highly esteemed by his fellow scholars all over the world; his charm of manner, his eagerness to help others, and his enthusiastic energy won him many friends. He received is knighthood in 1919. he married,, in 1910, Alide Goldschmidt, the artist, and leaves one son and one daughter.

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