Professor Peter Alan Martin Clemoes, Ph.D., Litt.D., F.R.Hist.S.

Peter Clemoes was born in Southend-on-Sea on 20 January 1920, and educated at Brentwood School. Blessed with a handsome presence and a resonant voice, he intended to become an actor and won a scholarship to R.A.D.A. but was called up for active service before he started the course. He served in the Royal Corps of Signals, first in Egypt and latterly with the occupying forces in Germany. War service completed and acting forgotten, Clemoes entered Queen Mary College, London, gaining a first in English, followed by postgraduate work in Anglo-Saxon at King's College, Cambridge. He was awarded his doctorate in 1956 for an edition of AElfric's Catholic Homilies I, by which time he had been appointed a research fellow at Reading University where he remained until 1961. He then joined what was to become the Cambridge University Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, as lecturer in Old English, a post newly created by Professor Dorothy Whitelock, F.S.A., whom he succeeded as Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in 1969. He developed the links with English studies which she had initiated and added Anglo-Latin writings and palaeography to the discipline. Deeply committed to the promotion of Anglo-Saxon studies and building on the foundations laid by Dorothy Whitelock, Clemoes earned an international reputation for himself and his department. In 1963 he was appointed general editor of the series, Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile, a Danish project founded as a tribute to Sir Winston Churchill and published in Copenhagen, for which he commissioned comprehensive introductions from leading scholars. The periodical, Anglo-Saxon England, appeared in 1972 and, after a quarter of a century, this thriving journal is a memorial to Clemoes' dedicated scholarship, although three executive editors now perform the tasks that he undertook single-handedly. He was also a founding member of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, over whose second conference he presided in 1985, and founding director of Fontes Anglo-Saxonici, a register of written sources used in Anglo-Saxon England. All these activities left little time for his own research but after retirement in 1982 Clemoes returned to two long-cherished projects: work on his massive Interactions of Thought and Language in Old English Poetry (1995) and preparation for publication of his doctoral thesis. He was correcting the first proofs of this when he died and it was published posthumously by the Early English Text Society in 1997. Clemoes began his long and happy association with Emmanuel College in 1962 as an Official Fellow and, conscientious in his collegiate duties as in his scholarship, he was successively tutor, director of studies in English and assistant librarian. The day he died was spent in the college, where he lunched with colleagues before playing his customary (cunning) game of bowls in the Fellows Garden and afterwards took tea with them before returning home to Chesterton. Within hours of the anouncement of his sudden death on the Internet, tributes were received from far and wide and his old friend, Professor André Crepin of the Sorbonne, generously initiated a Peter Clemoes Fund for the support of Anglo-Saxon studies, to be administered by Emmanuel. He died on 16 March 1996.