David Daniell (1929-2016)

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Honorary Fellow and alumnus Professor David Daniell (1949, English), who died aged 87 on 1 June 2016.

David was a literary scholar and editor of specialist books, mainly about William Tyndale and his translations of the Bible, and also published a number of studies of the plays of Shakespeare. He founded the Tyndale Society, which today has approximately 100 members worldwide and is both a Christian fellowship and an academic society, and served as its chairman from 1995 until 2005.

David was proud of his roots in northern England, having grown up in Sutton-in-Craven, Yorkshire, where his father Eric was a Baptist minister. He attended Darlington Grammar School before coming to St Catherine’s Society in 1949 to study English. The War intervened before he took up his place, and he served as a Radar Fitter in Cornwall, which he greatly enjoyed. At Oxford he was taught by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and he was especially pleased by his connection to C. S. Lewis, an obvious role-model given David’s interest in theology as well as literature. Later he studied Theology, also at St Catherine’s, then specialised in the Reformation at Tübingen University, Germany.

He became a Baptist Minister in Oxfordshire, but after a few years moved to teaching. He married Dorothy Mary Wells in 1956, and they settled near Hemel Hempstead where David taught at Apsley Grammar School for over a decade and where their two sons, Christopher and Andrew, were born. He then became a lecturer at University College London, rising to Senior Lecturer in 1986, and Professor in 1992. David was a popular teacher and helped many people during his time at UCL, winning the English department’s ‘teacher of the year award’ in his final year at the University. He retired in 1994.

David’s achievements were widely recognised, including being elected an honorary fellow at Hertford College in 1998, and at St Catz in 2000. Over the years, he gave numerous significant lectures, especially in the United States, and radio broadcasts, almost all about Tyndale and his influence on the English Bible. David was a forceful and dynamic presence, who was never afraid of a challenge. He is survived by his sons and grandchildren.