Dr Jim Dryhurst

Colleagues will be sorry to learn of the death, on Tuesday 11 October 2022, of Dr Jim Dryhurst, former Senior Lecturer in the Department of French.

Dr Dryhurst was appointed as Assistant Lecturer at Leeds in 1956, when he combined his academic work with his duties as Assistant Warden at Devonshire Hall, and to a full lectureship in 1961. He was awarded his PhD in 1963 by the University of Liverpool for a thesis which explored the ideas of Jean Desmarets de Saint-Sorlin, a seventeenth-century novelist, dramatist and poet whose career thrived under the patronage of Cardinal Richelieu. Dr Dryhurst was soon to become established as an authority on seventeenth-century French literature more broadly, publishing well-received studies on Molière and Racine. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1971.

Dr Dryhurst was also an innovative teacher. In harness with his great friend and colleague Dr Howard Evans, he developed a pioneering undergraduate course on Bilingual Liaison Interpreting which, to this day, is still taught in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. An excellent linguist whose spoken French was grammatically faultless, Dr Dryhurst was also a mainstay among the staff who delivered the immersive, residential course in advanced French for senior civil servants, led by the departmental head Professor Philp Thody, which ran for over twenty years until 1995.

‘Gentleman Jim’ was the sobriquet which became attached to Dr Dryhurst, for Jim was kind and understanding with his students as well as the epitome of collegiality, always a steadying influence on occasionally intemperate colleagues. He was a great conversationalist, witty and sparkly-eyed. He also had some hidden talents. Late one sleepy Sunday afternoon, at a time when Health and Safety regulations were less stringent than they are now, Jim and a younger colleague were returning files and books to campus at the end of an outreach activity. For no apparent reason Jim turned to his colleague and said ‘I can still muster a sprint, you know’. So it was that, aged 63, Gentleman Jim embarked on a 50-yard dash along the lower ground floor corridor of the Michael Sadler Building, covering the distance in under 8 seconds. He was no less nimble when he finally retired in 1996, after forty years of distinguished service to the University.

The funeral service has been held.

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