Marshall Grossman, 1948-2011

April 21, 2011

Marshall Grossman was a renowned and award-winning Milton scholar who could make people "laugh hard and think harder".

He studied for his first degree at the State University of New York, Binghamton, and then moved south to New York City to complete an MA at Brooklyn College and a doctorate at New York University. After teaching at Fordham University, he joined the University of Maryland as an associate professor in 1989 and became a full professor in 1996.

Professor Grossman specialised in literature of the Renaissance period and particularly the work of John Milton. He was an elected member of The Milton Seminar from 1989 and an executive board member of the Milton Society between 1989 and 1992.

His first book, Authors to Themselves: Milton and the Revelation of History (1987), won the James Holly Hanford Award (Milton Society of America Book of the Year Award).

Professor Grossman also authored The Story of All Things: Writing the Self in English Renaissance Narrative Poetry (1998) and The Seventeenth-Century Literature Handbook (2011) as well as editing essay collections including Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre and the Canon (1998) and Reading Renaissance Ethics (2007).

Professor Grossman was keenly interested in contemporary culture and politics, and he wrote a blog for the American website The Huffington Post on political issues.

He amassed many awards for his work. The most recent was in 2009-10 when he was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities Long-term Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

David Lee Miller, distinguished professor of English at the University of South Carolina, said of Professor Grossman: "If you knew him only by his work, then you knew a lot. He was a brilliant critic. But those of us who knew him personally saw how the wit and brilliant mind were always in play."

He added: "Marshall could talk to you about anything - politics, history, jazz, the more abstruse reaches of theory. He could make you laugh hard and think harder.

"To know him well enough was to see an underlying sweetness to his disposition that expressed itself mostly by indirection. Beneath his sometimes sardonic persona, he was an incredibly kind man."

A memorial from Maryland's department of English says: "Faculty, staff and students in the English department feel a profound sense of loss, one shared by scholars and colleagues across the nation and around the world."

Professor Grossman died of cancer on 29 March.

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