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LILIAN HAMILTON JEFFERY

1915-1986


12. Academic Distinctions and Final Years

In 1980, she gave up her Tutorship and her LMH flat in Fyfield Road two years early, to give herself more time for work, and transferred herself to a flat in Belsyre Court, ten minutes walk from college. Here she continued to distribute tea, sherry, advice and commiseration to a stream of visitors; the main difference was that the series of cats who had distinguished her college rooms came to an end. In fact, not much systematic work emerged from this last phase, and, for reasons which never became fully clear, lapses in her memory for domestic matters started to bother her. But her memory for her work never deserted her, and she was by no means stagnating. A last visit to Athens for the Epigraphic Congress of October 1982 produced a tantalizing paper on the continuity of heroic burial, which may yet point in profitable directions.

LMH made her an Honorary Fellow; she had become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1956 and of this Academy in 1965. A last, very grand, invitation to America in 1983 she turned down, with considerable reluctance. The reality behind the honours was that virtually no scholar anywhere dreamt of publishing a new archaic Greek text without showing it to her first, and their reasons were not narrowly textual and epigraphic. From the smallest ring to a Cyclopean block, she could define, as far as possible, the archaeological considerations relevant for interpretation.

Early in 1984, disquieting symptoms revealed cancer of the lymphatic system. In her long decline, she showed exemplary calm and fortitude. For a time, she stayed in the flat between periods of treatment, even taking one last pupil in Greek Sculpture (and making a fuss when his college tried to pay her). She might well have stayed longer, but thought she would be less of a nuisance to her friends if she transferred herself to a nursing home. There, the room might have been thought somewhat bleak, but she got good care. Armed with an enormous diary to record visitors and their conversation, she ranged from reminiscence to expert advice on new photographs and squeezes; problems about Kritios and Nesiotes reappeared to close the circle. Occasional forays to the flat to save her family trouble in tidying up after her had to be watched; perhaps remembering her experience with Campbell's notes, she was showing signs of throwing away too much. On 29 September 1986 she died, leaving her family, friends and colleagues with memories of a matchless serenity.

D.M. LEWIS


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