Remembering James Morwood

7th February 2018

News, Student news, Alumni news

Friends and colleagues of the late James Henry Weldon Morwood, 1943 – 2017, gathered in Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre to remember this great classicist.

Some 400 people including colleagues, family, friends and students were welcomed by the Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC, who spoke warmly of James and his profound influence on Wadham College.

Among tributes from James’s students and former colleagues at Harrow and Bryanston, British screenwriter, producer and film director Richard Curtis CBE brought laughter to the occasion, describing the production of the weekly Harrovian newspaper with his inspirational young teacher ‘Jimmy’.  Curtis described James’s encouragement of the boys to create something from nothing to fill the pages of this paper as well as his enthusiasm for drama and performance: the experience of working with James helped prepare him for writing sketches for Not the Nine O’Clock News.

James’s appreciation of music was marked by wonderful performances by pianist Jack Ridley (Wadham 2006), who played Wagner’s Liebestod from Tristan (transcribed for piano by Liszt) and a string sextet, organised by Zoe Reed Sanderson (Wadham 2016), who performed the sextet from Capriccio by Richard Strauss. Fellow music lover Ann Hackney (Wadham 1976) spoke of the joy of attending concerts with such a musically knowledgeable friend.

John Taylor (University of Manchester) described James’s tireless participation and organisation of Classics summer schools at Bryanston, and Jeremy Neumark Jones (Wadham 2009), who participated in one such summer school, going on to study at Wadham, read from one of James’s books, The Life and Works of Richard Brinsley Sheridan.  James’s contribution to Classics in Oxford and to Wadham was celebrated by Stephen Heyworth (Bowra Fellow & Tutor in Classics, Wadham), with stories about James as Dean, James as teacher, James as co-author, and James as myth.

Colleague Christopher Tyerman’s reflected on James as a lively young colleague at Harrow, keen to immerse himself not only in the English and Classics departments but also in the social life of the school. Former student Hannah Marsters (Wadham 2013) described James’s encouragement of her acting, reading from James Morwood’s translations of Euripides’ Troades and Medea. Toby Dantzic who was taught by James at Harrow and Wadham (1994) read a typically rude and gossipy poem from Sir Maurice Bowra’s New Bats in Old Belfries.

Following the memorial, guests shared their own memories of James over tea in Wadham’s Dining Hall and Old Library, some going on to the King’s Arms.

  • Memorial to James Morwood at the Sheldonian Library, Oxford

  • Jack Ridley (Wadham 2006) plays to guests at the Sheldonian

  • Warden, Ken Macdonald QC

    Warden, Ken Macdonald QC

  • Hannah Marsters (Wadham 2013)

    Hannah Marsters (Wadham 2013)

  • Christopher Tyerman, former Harrow colleague 

  • Richard Curtis CBE

    Richard Curtis CBE, former Harrow student

  • Jeremy Neumark Jones (Wadham 2009)

    Jeremy Neumark Jones (Wadham 2009)

  • John Taylor (University of Manchester)

    John Taylor (University of Manchester)

  • Ann Hackney (Wadham 1976)

    Ann Hackney (Wadham 1976)

  • Toby Dantzic (Harrow; Wadham 1994)

    Toby Dantzic (Harrow; Wadham 1994)

  • Stephen Heyworth (Bowra Fellow & Tutor in Classics, Wadham)

    Stephen Heyworth (Bowra Fellow & Tutor in Classics, Wadham)

  • String sextet, organised by Zoe Reed Sanderson (Wadham 2016)

  • Richard Curtis with Christopher Tyerman

  • Visitors return to Wadham for tea

    Visitors return to Wadham for tea

The James Morwood Memorial Fund

The James Morwood Memorial Fund has been set up to fund teaching, learning, outreach and access programmes (including academic posts) in Greek and Latin, especially language. If you would like to give to the James Morwood Memorial Fund then please click here. (Please click on the the 'Designation' drop-down box and select Morwood Fund).