Tributes to DAVID MIALL
Academic Director of the Coleridge Conferences 1988-1994
(The Coleridge Bulletin New Series No 5, (Spring 1995) pp 58-61)
Anthony John Harding (
In 1985—an age ago—I read a superb article on The Ancient Mariner that had just appeared in Studies in English Literature. The author was unknown to me, but I wrote to him anyway, hoping that some sort of transatlantic correspondence with this highly original Coleridge scholar might result. The reply came virtually by return of post. It not only pursued the conversation -"A more modern and less comfortable view of Coleridge begins to emerge"!- but
promised information about a new organization. Long before anyone heard of the Internet, David had a rapidly-growing network of Coleridgeans — and I was now part of it.
David's interests have never been confined to Coleridge. The first time I met him in person he had just returned from directing the music for an Aphra Behn play — auspiciously enough, the play was The Lucky Chance. Soon afterward followed the first Coleridge conference at Nether Stowey. I still do not know how David manages to do everything he does while keeping in touch with hundreds of us around the world, but can respond only with the simple wish: Floreat!"
Professor Anya Taylor(The
David Miall is the spirit of generosity. Over the last eight years he has worked to set up the Coleridge Conference in Coleridgean locales so that colleagues from around the world could present their ideas and talk to each other while eating, drinking, or strolling among flower beds or woodlands. Rarely did David schedule a paper of his own, singificantly, subtle understandings of Coleridge's emotions. Otherwise he read proposals, grouped them in remarkably fruitful ways, and then heard all the papers, rising after each one to comment concisely and appreciatively and make a transition to the next event, giving a sense of the whole. His giving to others included helping this appreciative recipient with several references and writing encouraging letters. His generosity and his gracious appreciation of others created the atmosphere of warmth and mutual respect that characterizes the conference. Perhaps he can turn now with full attention to his own ideas, including his astonishing software adventure.
Professor Reg Foakes (U.C.L.A.) writes:
What has always struck me about David is a kind of expansiveness; he seems to grow as a conference develops,
spreading ever more enthusiasm; his energy, and capacity for being interested in everything connected with Coleridge, have really given life to our meetings. He creates a sense of potential excitement about even the duller talks and occasions, and only the very best conference directors succeed in doing that.
Professor Denise Degrois (University de Paris 111, Sorbonne Nouvelle) writes:
David Miall's art of discovering the
possible links or contrasts between papers gave participants a Coleridgean
sense of unity in diversity, and also a sense that highly specialized critics
and more humble or remote readers of Coleridge could find a common ground... in
Christ Rubinstein (Bransgore, Hants) writes:
David Miall has been the person who has done the thorough and difficult work in collating all the strands which have led to the success of the conferences as absolutely rewarding events: hopefully precursors of an increasingly inspiring future. His has been the presence in that machinery of administration, one of the essentials, for the furtherance of poetic vision. Salutations, David.
Let his successor as Conference
Director, Nick Roe (
I recall with great fondness the
first Coleridge Summer Conference, which was held in July 1988 in the village
hall at Stowey next door to the 'Ancient Mariner' pub. The speakers included
Jack Stillinger, Raimonda Modiano, Ken Johnston, Anya Taylor, John Beer, Gordon
Coleridgeans and Romanticists brought together in a spirit of scholarly friendship by David Miall. David's courtesy, his energy, and his warm welcome for all that the participants had to bring to the Conference ensured its success on that first occasion — and at the four succeeding conferences held in the Somerset Agricultural College at Cannington. All participants will recall with affection the many lectures and papers in the lantern-shaped lecture room; the beautiful eighteenth-century buildings of the college; walks around the Quantock heights and combes; evenings at the 'Friendly Spirit' tavern; the pleasing chimes of Cannington parish church at 3 a.m. The Coleridge Conference is truly a unique event, and the growing number of friends who have met together at each successive conference is a resounding tribute to David's genius as founding spirit. I wish him luck and all good wishes for the future, and look forward to welcoming all participants to the fifth Coleridge Summer Conference, 19-24 July 1996. A publicity flyer for the Conference will be circulated very shortly.