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Michael Quinn

Michael Quinn, former Senior Lecturer in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, passed away peacefully on 2 March 2007.

Michael Quinn was a key figure in the English Department of the former University College, Cardiff, and will be affectionately remembered and sadly missed by generations of students and teachers as well as university colleagues. His contribution to Cardiff over many years was wide-ranging, generous and characteristically selfless.

He had a long association with Cardiff University, first as an undergraduate and then as a lecturer and senior lecturer. During his degree course he was elected President of the Students’ Union. It was with relish that he used to relate the story of approaching the University to see whether they wished to go half shares on a small van. The haughty reply was as follows: ‘What use would a university have for a motorised vehicle?’ 

Mick was a Cardiff boy, and identified totally with both the town and the University. In the sixties, when staff were still more than a little remote from students, and when some lecturers still addressed students by their surnames alone, Mick was one of the first to cross the important barrier of using first names. He was entirely friendly and supportive in a way that has subsequently become the norm.

Mick was an inspiring teacher, both in a seminar and in the lecture theatre. For many years, he and Terry Hawkes divided the teaching of Shakespeare — the heart of an English course - between the two of them. For more than twenty-five years, the two friendly rivals provided students with perhaps the most stimulating insight into the plays of Shakespeare on offer at the time in any university in Britain. Along with his love of Shakespeare and theatre in general, another central dimension of Mick’s life was his Catholic faith; there was always just a slight sense of dismay when students were entirely lacking in any awareness of the Bible or, indeed, any aspect of religion, an awareness that could have added so much to their reading of literary texts, and an awareness that was always illuminatingly deployed in Mick’s reading of a play.

Former colleagues will also remember fondly Mick and his wife Priscilla’s generosity and warmth as hosts. At Christmas and before a summer exam board, there was always a party at Mick and Priscilla’s house, with their children acting as waiters and showing a quiet self-confidence that clearly delighted their mum and dad. Mick is one of those people of whom it can genuinely be said that he was both loved and respected, and will be much missed.

Dr John Peck, School of English, Communication and Philosophy