David Bevington, one of the world’s leading scholars of early English drama, died on Friday, 2 Aug. He was 88 years old. While he is best known for his Shakespearean studies (I use his edition of the Complete Works for my classes, and have done so throughout my career. It is the most recent edition to have been produced by a single editor, and put him in the company of , among others, Dr. Johnson.), his work on the pre-Shakespearean drama (as seen in his 1962 From Mankind to Marlowe , 1985’s Homo, Memento Finis, and his anthology of medieval drama, which I also use) is vitally important as well. He also co-produced a complete edition of Jonson’s works.
I was fortunate enough to meet him once, at Kalamazoo. He delivered a lecture, and in the process, demonstrated why he had won teaching awards at the U of Chicago. Afterward, since I didn’t really have what I thought would be a worthwhile question, I simply thanked him for his presentation, and told him how much I admired his work. He seemed pleased, even though he was surely used to it by then, and especially in the setting of Kalamazoo, where he was a genuine superstar.
Over on the Book of Faces, my friend Anne Brannen (who I also met at Kazoo — it’s that kind of a place), shared this story from her own impressive career at Duquesne:
[T]he great scholar came to Duquesne and one of the things he did was visit my medieval drama class, in which we were using the text he had edited. In the question session, one of my students asked what he thought had been the greatest change in the study of medieval drama that he had seen. To my students on that Catholic campus, he said, it was the Catholics. We needed to hear from the Catholic scholars. The Protestants couldn’t see how the drama was working because they weren’t inside it. (Oh, David. Thank you for seeing that.)
He saw a great deal, and we were fortunate that he shared it with us. So long, Dr. Bevington — thanks for the works.