David Bradby, 1942-2011

January 27, 2011

David Bradby was an "incredibly ethical" scholar with a "dry wit" who spent his academic career working to promote the study of non-English theatre.

He was born on February 1942 and studied modern languages at Trinity College, Oxford, where he developed a keen interest in drama. He went on to complete a postgraduate teaching course at the University of Bristol and then a doctorate on the Russian-born French playwright Arthur Adamov at the University of Glasgow.

After teaching at Glasgow, Professor Bradby moved to the University of Kent, where he co-founded the university's drama department in 1970. Next came a stint in Nigeria, where he worked with the British Council, before he was appointed head of the department of drama at the University of Caen in Normandy.

Professor Bradby returned to England in 1988 to join Royal Holloway, University of London as professor of theatre and head of department, posts he held until his retirement in 2007.

He was widely known as a respected scholar of French theatre and taught interdisciplinary courses combining literature, history, philosophy, film and drama. In 1997, he was made a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in recognition of his contribution to the study of French culture.

Maria Delgado, professor of theatre and screen arts at Queen Mary, University of London, who co-edited the journal Contemporary Theatre Review with Professor Bradby, paid tribute to a "great facilitator and brilliant editor".

"He was a brilliant mentor to younger colleagues," she said. "He had such an open nature; his office door was always open and he always talked to his colleagues and asked them about how their research was going."

Professor Delgado said that Professor Bradby's impact on theatre studies had been "immeasurable" and that the discipline was richer for his work.

"David encouraged theatre studies in the UK to look beyond the UK and the US to continental Europe and beyond, bringing something of the spirit of innovation then running through French and German theatre to these shores," she said.

She added that Professor Bradby was a socialist Christian who "loved good food and good wine and also was an incredibly ethical human being".

His work with charities including Shelter and Traidcraft demonstrated his knack of being "principled without being pompous" inside and outside the workplace, she said.

Professor Bradby died of cancer on 17 January 2011. He is survived by his wife, the author Rachel Anderson, and their four children.


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