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The University of Southampton
EnglishPart of Humanities

In memory of Dr Peter Happé

Published: 18 February 2021

We were deeply saddened to hear of the death of Dr Peter Happé, formerly a Visiting Fellow of the English Department, of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Culture, and a University Visitor.

Professor Emeritus John McGavin writes:

"Peter was a regular attendee at our conferences and seminars as well as being a highly prominent member of the Medieval English Theatre Conference and of the Tables Rondes and Colloques at the University of Tours, where he had also received a medal of the city for his work in establishing these events at the School for Advanced Studies. He was also a highly valued PhD supervisor and examiner in the English department.

He remained an active researcher, speaker, and publisher throughout his very long career, even in his previous life as a teacher and Head of Barton Peveril Sixth Form College, from which he retired to become a full-time academic researcher.

It may give you some sense of his longevity and significance if I tell you that I first read Lyndsay's Satire of the Thrie Estaitis, and was first able to teach medieval biblical and morality drama in Southampton, using his editions from the Penguin English Library! At a time when publishers could not be persuaded to support this area of the curriculum, his work was seminal, and it is reasonable to suggest that the major developments of the discipline over the last 40 years would have been considerably impeded without his texts on these genres and his subsequent editions of Bale and Heywood (with Richard Axton).

He was wholly open to the continental dimension of medieval drama, and was expert on aspects of Dutch rhetorician drama. His most recent work was editing Jonson. He died yesterday in hospital in his sleep having continued his work and his support of colleagues in the discipline over a number of years during which he was suffering from Parkinson's disease. Former postgraduates and colleagues speak uniformly of his kindness, his encouragement, and his exemplary decency in questions and discussion. In medieval drama circles, he was one of the most significant landmarks, and his loss is very painful."

Our sincere condolences to Peter's family and friends.

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