John Burrows Obituary, Death – My friend and old tutor John Burrow, who passed away recently at the age of 85, was one of the most significant scholars of his generation. He introduced a fresh grace and sensitivity to the understanding of medieval English literature, and he was a pioneer in these areas. The first of his many classic studies was released in 1965, and it offered a reading of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that continues to be accepted today. His other works shed light on some of the most important writers of the time, including Chaucer, Gower, Langland, the poet who wrote the Gawain tales, and Hoccleve.
He had a clear and witty writing style. He was always wise and sensitive, and he paid attention to the smallest detail, such as shedding light on the significance of winking in medieval manuscripts. He was always attentive to minor details. He was an outstanding editor, and his most recent work was on an electronic edition of Piers Plowman. For this project, which required him to work with other people because he never learned how to use the internet, he collaborated with others.
John Burrow was the son of William Burrow, an accountant, and Ada Burrow, whose maiden name was Hodgson and who worked as a teacher. John was born and raised in Loughton, Essex. After graduating from Buckhurst Hill county high school in Chigwell, he continued his education at Christ Church in Oxford, where he majored in English. 1955 marked the beginning of his academic career when he took a position as an assistant lecturer at King’s College London.
He then moved to Oxford in 1957 to take a position as a lecturer in English at Christ Church and Brasenose College. In 1961, he was accepted as a fellow at Jesus College, where he worked with his pals John Carey and Christopher Ricks to infuse the English curriculum with some much-needed vitality and excitement. Always acting with a humanity and generosity that did not necessarily chime with the university management, he took up the Winterstoke chair in 1976 at Bristol University, where he also served as head of department and then as dean of the faculty. He held this position throughout his career at Bristol University. John was honored with election to the rank of fellow in the British Academy in the year 1986, and from 1983 until 2006, he was the honorary director of the Early English Text Society. Even though he resolutely refused to use email, he always responded to the numerous requests for assistance from young students with attention and care.