Professor George Kane, medievalist, dies aged 92





A towering scholar among medievalists, George Kane was for half a century and more the acknowledged authority on Piers Plowman. He spent most of his career in the University of London, where he was an influential and greatly respected figure. After retiring from King’s College, he accepted a chair in the University of North Carolina, retiring in 1987.

His first London appointment was as an assistant lecturer at University College in 1946, where he became a lecturer with tenure in 1948 and a reader in 1953. During these years he established his reputation as the coming leader in Middle English studies, with the publication of an important paper, Piers Plowman: Problems and Methods of Editing the B-Text (1948), and of a monograph, Middle English Literature (1951), daringly a work of literary criticism at a time when historical and language-based approaches were general. This work engaged directly with romances, lyrics and Piers Plowman, and was described by a reviewer as “one of the best books so far written on any aspect of Middle English literature”.

In 1955 he became Professor of English Language and Literature and head of department at Royal Holloway College, and in 1965 returned to Central London as Professor of English Language and Medieval Literature at King’s College.




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