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A tribute to Barbara Grodecka Lewis

23 October 2020

The Department of English remembers a celebrated teacher

Barbara Grodecka Lewis (1953-2020) taught on English short courses for the public at the University of Bristol from 1994 to 2019. She created the popular long-running course, 'Literature for Life'. Colleagues describe her as thoughtful, lively and innovative. She enriched the lives of her students and had a boundless enthusiasm for teaching, creating new and exciting courses year on year. Many of Barbara’s students learned with her for over 20 years, testimony to their mutual respect. She delighted in planning each course and always selected texts that stretched and inspired her students. In return, they rewarded her by writing thoughtful essays of a very high standard. Their loyalty, returning year after year, really touched Barbara. She retired in 2019 and will be greatly missed by the many who worked and learned with her over the years. 

Barbara is fondly remembered by two of her former students, who have written with the following tributes:

"I've been a passionate reader all my life but having left school at fifteen and then started a family, coming to Barbara in my fifties was a massive revelation and enrichment. I know many, many of us were introduced and encouraged to reading in a way which really opened our minds. She had just the right approach to make us try and stretch ourselves which was so rewarding and enriching."

"Barbara was simply the best teacher I’ve ever known (and I’ve participated in adult-education a lot). She thought hard, worked hard, & conveyed all she’d distilled very clearly. So many people have benefitted from her teaching. Her Literature Class does deserve the label ‘iconic’. I attended for 14 years & was thus a relative ‘newbie’. It is very rare for any class to keep drawing the same students back year on year, in the way hers did."

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