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-- and see the last entry on Edward Miall for several accounts of his life
Thumbnail biography. Born January 1947 at Brighton, Sussex, England (a very snowy winter, I'm told), the fifth and last of my family. Educated at a small Montessori school in Patcham near Brighton until I was eleven. But we moved to a house in the country when I was six, so I had to commute for over an hour a day to get there -- by bicycle for two miles to Ditchling, then a long bus ride. I wandered about the woods and hills a lot on my own as a child. I acquired a passion for dragonflies and, later, Shelley's poetry and the novels of Thomas Hardy. Then I transferred to a grammar school in Brighton at eleven, where I gradually lost interest in school (can you believe this? They made us join a cadet army, and parade about in uniform on Friday afternoons!). I left at 16 to go to music college in London, where I studied pianoforte, composition, and the oboe. I met my first wife Valerie there. Shortly after graduating from music college in 1967 we were married.
I taught music for a few years, and tried to make a career as a film music composer, but this was a signal failure. I turned to literature instead, and in 1972 went to the University of Stirling to begin an English degree (I was now aged 25): given an admissions interview there by Grahame Smith, then senior lecturer in English. I later took two courses with him: he remains my ideal teacher. Our son Laurence was born in 1975 while we were living at Abderdona Cottages in the country ten miles east of Stirling. In 1976 I went to Cardiff as a Tutorial Fellow in the English Department at University College where I also worked on a doctorate. My wife by now had suffered several nervous breakdowns. She was to die in January 1982. In 1979 Laurence and I moved to Cheltenham, where I taught at the College of St Paul & St Mary (now the University of Gloucestershire) after helping the college start a new Humanities degree. I met my second wife here, Sylvia Chard. We took a year's leave in the USA at the University of Illinois in Urbana in 1982-83, and married while there (we married at the city gaol, which is where they did such things in Urbana).
After a few years at Cheltenham, where Sylvia and I were both still teaching, we became increasingly anxious about the Tory government's destructive higher education policies. We decided it was time to move. Sylvia secured a professorship in education at Alberta in 1989: we moved to Edmonton that summer. I obtained a position in the English Department the following year. Laurence completed a political science degree at Alberta and is now working in Montreal as a communications specialist. Sylvia is now Emeritus Professor, and has been busy as an educational consultant in a number of different places in the world, from Mexico to China. The main thing we miss about England are the relatives we left behind, and the English pubs (the imitations in Edmonton are really nothing like, believe me). But most summers we return to Europe for several weeks, often including visits to England, France, and Germany where some of our grandchildren are now being raised.
(died August 2001 aged 16)
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Last updated January 10th 2010