Professor Peter Thomas Ricketts (1933-2013)
Colleagues were saddened to learn of the sudden death last week at the age of eighty of Professor Peter T. Ricketts, who was James Barrow Professor of French at the University of Liverpool between 1980 and 1983.
An undergraduate and postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham (during which time he spent a period in Nîmes and then at the Université de Montpellier), Peter taught in Toronto and Vancouver between 1961 and 1968 before returning to a post in Birmingham from where he then moved to the James Barrow Chair in 1980. Peter went from Liverpool to become Professor of Romance Philology in the University of London, at Queen Mary and Westfield College, where he remained after his retirement an Honorary Fellow, as well as Emeritus Professor. He also became Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham.
Peter’s research interests included Romance philology and French linguistics, Medieval French language and literature and Medieval Occitan language and literature, areas in which he published extensively. His reputation as one of the leading scholars in these fields was widely recognized, in Britain and France, with the award of Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques and Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, as well as an O.B.E. in 2006 for services to Medieval Languages and Literature. Peter was also made Docteur honoris causa (by Université de Toulouse—Le Mirail) in 2010, and had only last week been awarded the title of maître-ès-jeux of Toulouse’s Académie des Jeux Floraux, a poetic society founded in 1323.
Peter continued to be an extremely active researcher in his retirement, and a former student of his, Professor Catherine Leglu, reported last week on Francofil: ‘He was in the midst of several major projects. To name but two: the completion of volume 3 of his vast database of medieval Occitan texts in verse and prose, the Concordance de l’Occitan Médiéval (Brepols); a French translation of Martín de Riquer’s three-volume anthology, Los trovadores.’
A full tribute has been posted here, on the site of the Association internationale d’études occitanes. Peter was the AIEO’s first President, from its foundation in 1981 until 1990.
We were delighted that Peter was able to join colleagues in Liverpool in 2005 to celebrate the centenary of the James Barrow Chair (see p.4, here). The photograph shows Charles Forsdick alongside Peter (on the left of the picture) and another former holder of the chair, Tim Unwin (in the centre; James Barrow Professor, 1995-2000, and the 2005 Charles Bonnier lecturer).