Saturday, January 24, 2009


From the Royal Holloway English Department website:

Professor Sally Ledger

It is with enormous regret that we must announce the sudden and tragically early death of Professor Sally Ledger. Sally joined the Department of English in Autumn 2008 as Hildred Carlile Professor in English and Director of the Centre for Victorian Studies.

Even in this short time she had established herself as an indispensable presence in the life of the Department. This was not only because of her outstanding scholarly distinction ─ exemplified in her recent book on Dickens and the Popular Radical Imagination as well as preceding studies of Ibsen, the New Woman, and the cultural politics of the late nineteenth century ─ but also, and at least as importantly, because of her vibrant personal qualities: her warmth, her infectious sense of humour, great good sense, and sheer intellectual energy. Under her leadership, the College had already taken important steps towards becoming the leading centre for Victorian Studies in the country.

Before joining us here, Sally was Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at Birkbeck, University of London, where she had worked in the School of English and Humanities since 1995. As a PhD supervisor and mentor of junior colleagues, Sally was second to none. A rising generation of scholars will be for ever indebted to her for showing how exemplary interdisciplinary scholarship, collegiality and sense of the value of sociability and family life could be combined.

Her colleagues past and present, and indeed the world-wide community of nineteenth-century scholars, will be as shocked and saddened as we are by this news, and will join us in sending our most heartfelt condolences to her husband, Jim Porteous, and son, Richard. There will be a further announcement in respect of the funeral arrangements and a memorial service for her.

Edited to add: A beautiful remembrance from Birkbeck.

I can't call Sally a mentor. Even friend might stretch the point. But she was an amazing professor, always enthusiastic about her work and the work you brought to her office hours. She helped give shape to my dissertation, listening patiently while I tried to explain just what the hell I was trying to do with H.G. Wells. I still remember running into my first day of class at Birkbeck late (thanks Circle Line!) and her welcoming face. She was the model of what I thought an academic should be - cogent, energetic, dedicated, insightful, and with a remarkable ability to be so human and so real. I regret not keeping up with her or anyone else at Birkbeck really, for slinking away without my Distinction. I regret never telling her what I've just typed.


FOSCO said...

I was very sorry to hear this news. I took a one-week seminar with Sally at Dickens Universe last summer and I thought she was great. I was really looking forward to getting to know her better in the future. Thank you for sharing yoru lovely remembrance.

Maggie said...

Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you got to know Sally, especially her thoughts on Dickens.

Be well.