Thursday, June 21, 2007

Death of a True Bibliophile

I never had the opportunity to meet Robert L. Dawson, but I wish I had. I knew his work and always enjoyed his listserv posts and other writings. Dr. Dawson, "a member of the Libraries & Culture editorial board from 1995 to 2005, and a professor of French language and literature in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Texas at Austin since 1975" died 3 June in Paris, according to a draft note by his colleague Bette Oliver which was shared with the ExLibris list yesterday.

Dr. Dawson's major collection of more than 20,000 printed or manuscript items from the eighteenth century is currently being catalogued at the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M, with an opening exhibit scheduled for February, 2008. Oliver describes Dawson's interests as "eighteenth-century literature and culture, the history of the book, and bibliography with special emphasis on women writers, piracies, the French Revolution, and provincial imports."

Some of Dawson's many works mentioned by Oliver include The French Booktrade and the 'Permission Simple' of 1777: Copyright and the Public Domain; Customs Confiscations and Banned Books in France during the Last Years of the Ancien Regime; and Books Across the Channel: France, Great Britain and the International Trade in Books during the Long Eighteenth Century.

"In addition to teaching and research," Oliver concludes, "he was active in the Bibliographic Society of America and the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP). A beloved professor who was known for inspiring and encouraging his students and for bringing the fascinating eighteenth century to life, he was also a generous and helpful colleague and friend. Bob Dawson will be greatly missed by all of us."