4th June 1939 – 12th October, 2020.
The death of Professor Stephen Prickett on 12th October, 2020 was a moment of great loss and sadness for all scholars in the field of literature and religion. Born in Sierre Leone, Stephen began his academic teaching career in Nigeria after a B.A. in Cambridge, followed by a PGCE in Oxford. After he had completed his doctoral studies at Cambridge, he moved to the University of Sussex, and in 1983 he became Professor of English at the Australian National University in Canberra. He returned to the United Kingdom in 1990 to become Regius Professor of English at the University of Glasgow. After his retirement from Glasgow he held teaching posts in the USA and a visiting professorship at the University of Singapore. Retiring from his final post as Director of the Armstrong-Browning Library at Baylor University, Texas, he returned to Kent where he became an honorary professor of English at the University of Kent at Canterbury. He also held two honorary doctorates from the University of Artois, France, and the University of Bucharest, Romania.
Stephen was a prolific author, most particularly in the field of English Romanticism. Scholars of literature and religion remain indebted to him for his books Coleridge and Wordsworth: The Poetry of Growth (1970), Romanticism and Religion (1976) on the tradition of Coleridge and Wordsworth and Coleridge in the Victorian Church, and his edited volume The Romantics (1981), half of which he himself wrote. Later volumes moved into the later nineteenth century, such as Words and The Word (1986) and Origins of Narrative (1996) on the appropriation of the Bible in Romanticism and the nineteenth century. With Robert Carroll, Stephen edited the King James Version of the Bible for Oxford World Classics (1997). The Edinburgh Companion to the Bible and the Arts, edited by Stephen, was published in 2014, and he was still editing and writing in major projects in the field at the time of his death.
He is remembered fondly for the major role he played in the early conferences on literature and religion held in the universities of Durham and Glasgow, which later became the European Society for the Study of Literature and Theology. This was the forerunner of the International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture whose biennial conferences continue to this day. Stephen continued to be invited to many international conferences giving papers in this interdisciplinary area. He was also an active member of the founding editorial board of the journal Literature and Theology, supporting it faithfully for many years in its early days.
Among all his many achievements Stephen wished most to be remembered as a teacher and there are countless students, undergraduates and postgraduates in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, who have reason to be grateful to Stephen. He could be a demanding teacher, but he was always stimulating and creative. As colleagues we are immensely grateful for his kindness and his boundless energy and enthusiasm. We will miss him greatly.
David Jasper, Glasgow
Elisabeth Jay, Oxford