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Leofranc Holford-Strevens

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Leofranc Holford-Strevens (born 19 May 1946) is an English classical scholar and polymath, an authority on the works of Aulus Gellius, and a former reader for the Oxford University Press.

He is married to the American musicologist Bonnie J. Blackburn.

Career[edit]

After Southgate County Grammar School, in 1963 Holford-Strevens went up to Christ Church, Oxford, to read Literae Humaniores (a form of classical studies), and stayed on to obtain his doctorate there with a dissertation entitled Select Commentary on Aulus Gellius, Book 2 (1971).

In 1971 Holford-Strevens started work with the Oxford University Press as a graduate proof reader and later rose to become consultant scholar-editor there. His first book-length publication, Aulus Gellius, was published in 1988. Gellius was a Roman judge who corresponded with or knew many of the major figures of his time, including Favorinus, Fronto, Apuleius, and Herodes Atticus. His work Attic Nights was a miscellany of learning that ranged over several fields. Holford-Strevens's book was hailed by Hugh Lloyd-Jones as a masterpiece characterized by a "sharp critical intelligence". In appraising the remarkable quality of his classical scholarship, Lloyd-Jones stated that Holford-Strevens was one of the most learned men in England, comparing him to Sebastiano Timpanaro, who also managed to combine a career in a publishing house with world-class contributions to scholarship.[1][2] His prodigious erudition is widely acknowledged. W. H. Auden once called on dons entertaining him in Oxford to stop chatting, explaining that he wished to listen to Holford-Strevens's conversation as he held forth in another corner of the room.[3][4]

Numerous anecdotes circulate concerning his mannerisms, from his being barred from a college dining room on account of what were called his "mediaeval eating manners" to his ability to navigate streets while buried in The Times, and yet managing to miss running into lampposts.[3]

By the time of his retirement in 2011, Holford-Strevens had proof-read or edited over 500 books,[4] and in retirement he is still active and is working on a new commentary on Gellius. He lives in St Bernard's Road, Oxford.[4]

His work as a copy-editor was recognized in 2016 by the award of the British Academy President's Medal for outstanding service to the cause of the humanities and social sciences.[5]

Languages[edit]

Holford-Strevens's interest in languages was stimulated by his father, a company secretary, who introduced him at an early age to French, Spanish, and German.[3] He learnt Russian as a young boy out of curiosity when the Sputnik was launched in 1957, desiring to match a classmate who wished to know the tongue of the people who managed the technological feat.[4] According to Sir Keith Thomas, his ability to read forty languages made him a legendary figure at Oxford.[3][6] He reads all the Romance languages.

Selected publications[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1991, pp. 70–71.
  2. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1988.
  3. ^ a b c d Walsh 1999.
  4. ^ a b c d Little 2011.
  5. ^ "British Academy announces 2016 prizes and medal winners". The British Academy. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  6. ^ Lloyd-Jones 1991, p. 70.

References[edit]