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University announces death of highly-respected lecturer Professor Bill Gray

University of Chichester’s Professor William (Bill) Gray, 1952-2019


Professor Bill Gray (1952– 2019)


IT is with great sadness that we announce the death of Professor William (Bill) Gray, who died at home Monday 8 April after a long illness.

Prof Gray – or Bill to those who knew him – had taught at the University of Chichester for more than 35 years, becoming Professor of Literary History and Hermeneutics, when he had to retire from University life at the end of 2016 after an unexpected and serious stroke.

He began his academic life as a student at Christchurch, Oxford. After a further year at Princeton and then Edinburgh, he came to teach at Chichester where his varied interests led him to publish biographies of C.S. Lewis and Robert Louis Stevenson; three books on fantasy: Fantasy, Myth and the Measure of Truth: Tales of Pullman, Lewis, Tolkien, MacDonald and Hoffmann; Death and Fantasy; and Fantasy, Art and Life; edited collections of essays on C.S. Lewis and Mervyn Peake; and a collection of fairy tales from around the world.

A volume of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Fables, for which Bill went back to the original manuscripts to present Stevenson’s work as he had originally intended, is due out in the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson soon.

Bill began teaching in religious studies before moving into the department of English. He founded the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales, and Fantasy as a research centre at the University in 2009. The impact of the Centre has given a well-esteemed boost to research across genres, attracting an international editorial board of some repute and a wide list of contributors.

Messages of condolence and sympathy have been sent to his wife Lorna and children Jonathan, Rebecca and Rosanna from colleagues, researchers, authors, former students and fairy-tale fans, deeply saddened by the loss of such a brilliant scholar and a kind, supportive teacher who was an inspiration to so many.

A memorial service is being arranged for him at 2pm on Saturday 25 May at the University of Chichester’s Chapel, on its Bishop Otter campus, College Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6PE.

If you knew Bill, and would like to attend the service, please RSVP to Heather Robbins at