Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Gerald Eades Bentley, Jr (23 August 1930—31 August 2017)

I first met Jerry Bentley in 1992 or 1993. I had drafted a paper on William Muir and the Blake Press at Edmonton and sent it off to Blake Quarterly. The journal wrote back to say that G.E. Bentley, Jr had also sent them a paper on Muir and could we sort out two complementary papers for publication. We met up in Oxford where Jerry and Beth had rooms at Merton College and agreed a split. Jerry would provide a transcript and commentary on Muir’s correspondence with the bookseller Bernard Quaritch. And I would provide a biography of Muir with his letters to Kerrison Preston.

Actually it was Beth I met first. Jerry had been delayed somewhere so Beth got me to help with the laundry.  I wonder now if, say, years earlier it had been Sir Geoffrey Keynes at the door, would Beth have sought his assistance in folding sheets? Probably yes.

Jerry was the first distinguished literary scholar I had ever met. Our two papers appeared in Blake Quarterly in Summer 1993, and his had a note
Mr. Keri Davies has generously allowed me to see his essay on Muir, coincidentally written at the same time as my own, and to improve mine on the basis of his.
Naively, I thought this was the generous courtesy one would receive from Blake scholars as a matter of course. Alas!