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David Higgins, 1935-2015

26 November 2015

David Higgins, former Head of the Italian Department, died earlier this year. Felicity Firth offers a remembrance.

David Higgins was in charge of Italian Studies from 1966 to 1994. Under his guidance, we progressed from being a sub-department allied to French, catering for students doing Italian as only part of their degree course, to full-flown status as a department in our own right, offering courses in Single Hons Italian. All this was achieved with a skeleton staff: three full-time lecturers (including David) and two language assistants.

It was a pleasure to work with David. One had a sense that he saw the best in his staff, that he trusted our judgement and valued our opinions. It was, for staff and students alike, a happy department, morale remaining high even during the days when the survival of small departments was uncertain.

Above all, David was a scholar. He had the true scholar’s capacity for taking infinite pains, along with scrupulous honesty, an unfailing eye for detail and a quality of passionate dedication. All these he brought to his many contributions to Dante studies and later, in his retirement, to his monographs on local history and his book on St Jordan of Bristol.

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