E. M. W. Tillyard

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Eustace Mandeville Wetenhall Tillyard OBE (1889 – 24 May 1962) was an English classical and literary scholar who was Master of Jesus College, Cambridge from 1945 to 1959.[1]


Tillyard was born in Cambridge, where his father had served as mayor. He was educated at the Perse School and Jesus College. He was interested in the classics and archaeology, and in 1911 went to Athens to study at the British School of Archaeology.[1]

His knowledge of Greek helped him during the First World War, where he served with the British Expeditionary Force (1915–1916), the Salonika Force (1916–1919) and then as liaison officer with the Greek headquarters (1918–1919).[1] He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1919 Birthday Honours "for services rendered in connection with military operations in the Balkans."[2] He also received the War Cross from Greece.[1]

Following the war, he returned to Cambridge and devoted himself to the newly established English School. According to The Times, "Although not one of the Founding Fathers of the School. he rapidly became one of its central figures and its leading statesman — a position which, in spite of many changes in organization and personnel, he never really lost until his retirement from his University Lectureship in 1954. His influence was not mainly due to his very considerable gifts as a University politician; it was essentially the result of his whole-hearted devotion to the cause of English. Others may have won more widespread celebrity as scholars or as critics, but everyone in Cambridge knew that Tillyard, because of his selfless and unremitting thought and care for the good of the School, was its chief mainstay."[1]

Tillyard was a Fellow in English (1926–1959) at Jesus College, later becoming Master (1945–1959). He is known mainly for his book The Elizabethan World Picture (1942), as background to Elizabethan literature, particularly Shakespeare, and for his works on John Milton.[1] He is credited with having put forward the view that Elizabethan literature is not representative of "a brief period of humanism between two outbreaks of Protestantism" (viz., the English Reformation and the Thirty Years' War), but rather representative of a theological bond in England that allowed for a continuation of the medieval view of World Order.

His historical scholarship and contextual analysis informed the study of 16th-century literature and became the foundation for much of what Cambridge undergraduates would study in preparation for their examinations.

Personal life[edit]

In 1919, Tillyward married Phyllis (née Cooke). They had one son and two daughters. He died in Cambridge, aged 73 [1] and is buried in Histon Road Cemetery, Cambridge.


  • The Athenian Empire and the Great Illusion (1914)
  • The Hope Vases: a Catalogue and a Discussion of the Hope Collection of Greek Vases with an Introduction on the History of the Collection and on Late Attic and South Italian vases (1923)
  • Lamb's Criticism. A Selection from the Literary Criticism of Charles Lamb (1923)
  • The Personal Heresy: A Controversy (1939) with C. S. Lewis
  • The Elizabethan World Picture: A Study of the Idea of Order in the age of Shakespeare, Donne & Milton (1942)
  • Published by Pelican Book: The Elizabethan World Picture, 1972 and later prints.
  • Shakespeare's history plays (1944)
  • Milton (1946)
  • The Miltonic Setting: Past and Present (1947)
  • Poetry and Its background: Illustrated By Five Poems 1470-1870 (1948)
  • Shakespeare's problem plays. Chatto and Windus, London 1949.
  • The English Renaissance, Fact Or Fiction? (1952)
  • The English Epic and its Background (1954)
  • The Nature of Comedy and Shakespeare (1958)
  • The Epic Strain in the English Novel (1958)
  • Poetry Direct and Oblique (1959) Chatto & Windus
  • The Muse Unchained: An Intimate Account of the Revolution in English Studies at Cambridge (1958)
  • Myth and the English Mind (originally Some Mythical Elements in English Literature) The Clark Lectures (1959-1960)
  • Essays Literary & Educational (1962)
  • Comus & Some Shorter Poems Of Milton (1967) with Phyllis B. Tillyard
  • Shakespeare's Early Comedies

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Dr. E. M. W. Tillyard: English Studies at Cambridge". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 25 May 1962. p. 18. 
  2. ^ "No. 31373". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 1919. p. 6949. 
Academic offices
Preceded by
Wynfrid Laurence Henry Duckworth
Master of Jesus College, Cambridge
1945 - 1959
Succeeded by
Sir Denys Page