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Todd, Francis Murray (1924–1961)

by A. D. Hope

The recent untimely death of Professor Francis Murray Todd has been a loss felt equally in the academic life of this country and by his many friends, especially those in Canberra and Tasmania where he spent most of his years of university service. Professor Todd was born and educated in New Zealand and after a brilliant undergraduate career at Victoria University College, Wellington, in which he distinguished himself equally in English and French studies, followed by a brief period of lecturing and of service with the New Zealand armed forces, he went to University College, London, on a Shortcliffe Fellowship. After taking his Ph.D. at London he returned to New Zealand and entered the New Zealand Diplomatic Service. In 1949 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in English at the Canberra University College and was promoted to Lecturer in 1950 and Senior Lecturer in 1955. In 1954 he was awarded a Nuffield Fellowship and spent a year studying Early English Language and Literature at the University of Cambridge, and in visiting English and American universities on behalf of the College. During this period abroad he arranged for publication of his book on Wordsworth, Politics and The Poet. In 1956 he was appointed to the Chair of English in the University of Tasmania, where his energy and organising ability soon led to his taking a leading part in university affairs. My own acquaintance with Murray Todd began in Melbourne and continued during the years of our association in Canberra. Apart from our personal friendship, I learned to admire his immense energy and ability, the gusto with which he entered into every part of university life, the part he played in the theatre, on the Staff Association, in student affairs and in the social life of the university. He won the warmest respect and liking of his colleagues as a scholar, a teacher, and a man. It was with great regret that we relinquished him to the University of Tasmania and the news of his sudden death early this year has been a personal and bitter shock to all his former colleagues in this university. Added to this feeling of personal loss, is the tragic sense of an able and brilliant scholar cut off at the beginning of his career, and the feeling of deepest sympathy with his wife and family in their bereavement.

Original publication

Citation details

A. D. Hope, 'Todd, Francis Murray (1924–1961)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 October 2014.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2014

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