James Morwood (1943-2017)

It is with very great sadness that I write to say that James, the editor of CfA’s website ad familiares who will be known to many of you, died on holiday in northern Greece on September 10th.

James read Classics and English at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and for thirty years taught both subjects in Harrow as an assistant master and then head of classics, until 1996. During that time he wrote a book about Sheridan as well as a school Latin reader (with Maurice Balme), The Oxford Latin Course (with Balme, now in its second edition and with an American version adapted for the undergraduate market), a book about the roots of Latin and Greek in English (with Mark Warman) and the Oxford Pocket Latin Dictionary (revised 2005).

In 1996 James had built up a distinguished record as a teacher and scholar, and as a tireless worker for the Joint Association of Classical Teachers, both advocating classics and developing the JACT annual Greek summer school, where he taught since 1970 and which he often directed. As a result he was appointed Grocyn lecturer and fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, to run beginners’ language teaching across the university. He retired from that position in 2003, and became an emeritus fellow of Wadham in 2006 after serving in a variety of college roles as well as teaching undergraduates, a work he loved, which did not stop in ‘retirement’.

During this period he continued to publish widely across the classical field: translations of Euripides for Oxford World’s Classics, a Dictionary of Latin Words and Phrases, a grammar and pocket dictionary of classical Greek (with John Taylor), a revision of the Balme-Lawall beginners’ Greek course Athenaze, and commentaries on Propertius Book 3 and Virgil’s Aeneid Book 3 (both with Stephen Heyworth) (all Oxford), as well as a commentary on Iphigenia in Aulis (with Chris Collard), books on the Teaching of Classics and (with Carol Handley and John Taylor) A Greek Anthology, Virgil, Writing Latin, Sophocles, and Hadrian. These illustrate clearly the breadth and depth of James’ scholarship and his eagerness to co-operate with others on joint endeavours, each bringing their different skills and insights into the job.

On top of all this, he became deeply involved in teaching classics and English literature at Madingley Hall, the home of the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education.

First impressions count, and what struck one about James was his warmth, kindness and generosity. He was terrific company, with a wide range of friends, always ready to go out of his way to ensure everyone felt at home. While he enjoyed a good gossip, he never said an unkind word about anyone, and was selfless in putting himself forward when a job needed doing or someone needed help. His death brought an outpouring of affection from all who knew him. He was also a highly cultured man, with a particular passion for opera and the theatre, which he visited with friends all over Europe and the USA.

James died at the peak of his abilities, a man truly ποθεινὸς τοῖς φίλοις.

Peter Jones

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