Hugo Dyson

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Hugo Dyson
Hugo dyson.jpg
Dyson in 1964/5 (in a still from the film Darling)
Born (1896-04-07)7 April 1896
Died 6 June 1975(1975-06-06) (aged 79)
Occupation Scholar
Genre Shakespearian Literature

Henry Victor Dyson Dyson (7 April 1896 – 6 June 1975), generally known as Hugo Dyson and who signed his writings H. V. D. Dyson, was an English academic and a member of the Inklings literary group. He was a committed Christian, and together with J.R.R. Tolkien, he helped persuade C.S. Lewis to convert to Christianity.[1]



Dyson taught English at the University of Reading from 1924 until obtaining a fellowship with Merton College, Oxford in 1945.[2] He retired in 1963 but returned as emeritus fellow in 1969, teaching the newly introduced "modern" literature paper. His tutorials were notable because many of the writers he discussed had been personal friends.


Dyson was not a prolific writer, but the quality and voluminous quantity of his lectures and general conversation had quite an effect on people. He wrote the introduction of his first published book Poetry and Prose (1933) which is a collection of works of Alexander Pope with notes by Dyson.[3] Another of his few publications is Augustans and Romantics, 1689-1830 (1940),[4] a survey of contemporary English literature with a bibliography by Professor John Butt.[3]

Dyson preferred talk at Inklings meetings to readings. He was also known to have a distaste for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and is recorded by Christopher Tolkien as "lying on the couch, and lolling and shouting and saying, 'Oh God,[5] no more elves'".[6] Dyson was not alone in his distaste for Tolkien's stories, and eventually Tolkien gave up reading from them to the group altogether. It seems from the letters of C.S. Lewis that Dyson was considered the most fun-loving of the Inklings, and Warren Lewis liked him best of all.[citation needed].

Television and film[edit]

Dyson, an expert on Shakespeare, was asked during the early 1960s to host some televised lectures and plays about the great writer. Dyson's relaxed style won him several new friends which resulted in being cast in a small part in the 1965 film Darling[7] as Professor Walter Southgate, a major literary character.

Personal life[edit]

Hugo Dyson lived at 32 Sandfield Road in the east Oxford suburb of Headington until his death. He is buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford.


  1. ^ Hooper, Walter, ed. (2000), C.S. Lewis: Collected Letters Volume 1: Family Letters 1905-1931, Harper Collins, p. 974 .
  2. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 352. 
  3. ^ a b Glyer, Diana Pavlac (2007). The Company They Keep. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-890-0. 
  4. ^ The Cresset Press, 1940
  5. ^ In his biography of C.S. Lewis (Collins 1990) A.N. Wilson records Dyson as being more lewd (p. 217) and he subsequently identified Christopher Tolkien as his source.
  6. ^ Derek Bailey (Director) and Judi Dench (Narrator) (1992). A Film Portrait of J. R. R. Tolkien (Television documentary). Visual Corporation. 
  7. ^ "Dyson's time", Darling (short film clip), You tube .

Hugo Dyson appears as a primary character in James Owens' Imaginarium Geographica Series - Book Three "The Indigo King".

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