Tribute to Dudley Young

  • Date

    Thu 18 Nov 21

Raised in Canada, Dudley Young was educated at the universities of Toronto and Cambridge. In 1968, he was recruited into the Department of Literature at the University of Essex by its founding professor, Donald Davie. He remained at Essex until his retirement in 2005.

Favouring a philosophical approach to literature, and devoted to the study of intellectual history and comparative religion, Dudley was an outstanding scholar and intellectual. As well as contributing to the London Review of Books and the PN Review, he produce two major works: Out of Ireland: A Reading of Yeats’s Poetry, first published in 1975 and Origins of the Sacred: The Ecstasies of Love and War, published in 1991.

Dudley was an often inspirational lecturer, teacher and colleague. He used his quick wit, his extraordinary range of knowledge as well as his provocative sense of humour to lead his students, and sometimes his peers, along new avenues of thought. He was always ready to challenge accepted dogma and prevailing beliefs, and to go against the intellectual grain when he thought it was appropriate to do so.

A devoted ecologist, he put his principles into practice by running a small farm near Abberton with only a little help from others. There, he raised crops and tended livestock according to beliefs - learned from, among others, the American naturalist Henry David Thoreau - that emphasised the crucial importance of the natural, sustainable and the organic.

What he believed, above all, was that we are part of nature, it is part of us and that we are stewards of the land not its owners.

This tribute was written by Professor Richard Gray.

Dudley’s funeral will take place on Wednesday 1 December, at 11am, at St Andrew's Church in Abberton. 

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