John Peter Memorial Scholarship

John D. Peter (1921-1983)

In September of 1961, John Peter joined the English department at the University of Victoria, bringing with him a prestigious reputation as an internationally renowned literary critic and dazzlingly eloquent teacher. Having studied law in his native South Africa, he had read English at Cambridge before going to the University of Manitoba where he was associate professor and then professor of English during the 1950s.

John's first book, Complaint and Satire in Early English Literature, published by Clarendon Press in Oxford in 1956, still stands as the authority on that subject, yet he is even better known for his studies of Milton, T.S. Eliot, and William Golding. Many of these essays have since been anthologized, and three of his articles for F.R. Leavis' Scrutiny were chosen for inclusion in the two-volume Selection. In 1964, Along That Coast, a novel, was published by Doubleday and was awarded their Canadian Novel prize for that year. Two other novels and a collection of short stories followed; he was revising a fourth novel in the weeks before his untimely death.

John was a major influence in, and spokesman for, the English Department during its years of rapid expansion within the fledgling university. He was instrumental in the establishment of both the honours and the graduate programs. In 1967-68 he served as acting head of the Department. He also held visiting professorships at the Universities of Wisconsin, Oxford and Massachusetts.

A founding member of CAUT, ACUTE, and, by invitation, the Writers' Union of Canada, on whose national executive he served as a B.C. councillor, he was, at various times, a member of the selection committee for the Woodrow Wilson and Canada Council Doctoral Fellowships. He was also founding co-editor of The Malahat Review.

A brilliant speaker, an urbane and caustic wit, John was a formidable presence in the university community.

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