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DR. ALAN CAREY TAYLOR, SYDNEY GRADUATE, PROFESSOR FRENCH, PARIS

The cover was addressed to Dr. Alan Carey Taylor, 1 rue de Navane, Paris, France. The red 2d KGV Head and the green1d QE stamps were postmarked with a roller cancel from NEWCASTLE / 8 -PM/ 13 JUL/ 1937/ N.S.W with a slogan AIR MAIL/ SAVES TIME. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

The second cover was addressed to Dr. Alan Carey Taylor, Department of French, The University, Melbourne. in the same hand-writing. The red 2d KGV Head stamp was sent with a roller cancel from NORTH SYDNEY/ 3.45 PM/ 17 OCT/ 1938/ N.S.W and the slogan was REGISTER/ VALUABLE/ MAIL. The reverse was not seen (Figure 2).

I know that starting the discussion with the obituary of the recipient is far from the usual, but it was the only piece of information which was not fragmentary, but unfortunately only the first page was provided. It read: The sudden death of Alan Carey Taylor (1905-1975) "on 13 March 1975, in Ghana will have come as a considerable shock to his numerous friends and colleagues in this country and elsewhere. He was born in New South Wales in 1905, and graduated from the University of Sydney in 1926, after which he went to Paris as a research student and obtained the Doctorat d’Université in 1929. Back in Australia, he became a lecturer in French in his own University of Sydney in 1933. In 1938 he was awarded the degree of Docteur ès Lettres, and was appointed to the University of Melbourne, where he remained, as Lecturer and senior lecturer, until 1948. In that year he came to the University of London as Professor of French at Birbeck College, where he taught for 24 years. On his retirement in 1972, he accepted a post as Visiting Professor at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, which he still held at the time of his death.

Carey Taylor arrived in Paris when comparative literature was in its full bloom there, and it was in that direction that his researches turned, under the influence of Baldensperger and Hazard, and with Van Tieghen and Carré as his supervisors. His first thesis, on the early impact of Carlyle’s work in France, was expanded for the Doctorat d’Etat into a broader survey, Carlyle et la pensée latine (1937), and this was accompanied by a complementary thesis linking French literature and the beginnings of its author’s native land, Le Président de Brosses et l’Australie (1937). To this he returned in recent years, reworking it in English under the title The Frenchman behind Captain Cook, Charles de Brosses. His publications at Birbeck dealt chiefly with another topic in the classic tradition of comparatisme, the foreign influence of Balzac.

During his years in this country, however, it was perhaps less as a scholar than in the practical encouragement of French studies that he made his mark. Every reader will know the value of his Bibliography of Unpublished Theses on French subjects and of Current Research in French Studies, founded by him, both of which are now published by the Society for French Studies. From its earliest days, and for 23 years as its secretary, he fostered the activities of the Association of University Professors of French. He was for many years a member of the Mixed Commission established under the Franco-British Cultural Convention, and also of the committee of management of the British Institute in Paris. His work in these fields was recognized by his appointment as Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1961". The cover of one of his books, Carlyle et La Pensee Latine, published in Paris is shown in Figure 3.

There was information on the early education of Alan Taylor in 4 archived newspaper reports, the first in The Queenslander (Brisbane) which stated that the former North Sydney Boys’ High School student had been awarded a French Government Travelling Scholarship for 1927-28, and it reported that he received an ‘A’ for French in his Intermediate Examination in 1921 with ‘A’s in 4 other subjects. Two years later at the Leaving Certificate Examination he gained an University Exhibition, with Honours in French and Mathematics and ‘A’s in Latin and physics. At Sydney University he specialised in French and psychology, gaining first class honours in the former an second class in the latter subject. The Travelling Fellowship is tenable at the University of Paris.

‘Dr. Alan C. Taylor Successful French Scholar’ is the header in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) on 27 September 1929, which stated that he had gained the degree Of Doctor of Letters at the University of Paris with first class honours. He had previously earned his B.A. at Sydney University and he was returning to Australia after 2 years’ research at the Sorbonne. His thesis had been on "The influence of Carlyle upon French thought."

The SMH on 5 February 1938 mentioned that he had returned to Australia as Lecturer in French at the University of Melbourne, and it stated that his doctorate was the highest conferred in Paris in the Faculty of Arts, and for a foreigner it was a rare achievement.

‘Australian for London University Post’ was the header in The Argus (Melbourne) on 16 April 1948, and Dr. A.C. Taylor was described as senior lecturer in French at Melbourne University. His appointment was as Professor of French at the University of London. "Last year he was decorated by the French Government for his work for Free France. His wife, Madame Yvonne le Gal Taylor is a member of the teaching staff at the university." They had married October 20, 1939 at North Sydney. A picture of Dr. A. C. Taylor was appended to the newspaper article (Figure 4).

 

 
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