James Gibson was presented with a

Festschrift , A Spacious Vision,

by fellow Hardy scholars in 1994.
CHILDHOOD: Born in Wandsworth in 1919, Jim had two sisters, Margaret  and Joyce. Early childhood spent in South London and Worthing.  His father, who had been wounded at Gallipoli, died when Jim was 2, and his mother died tragically when he was 13. He then lived with his Aunt Annie in Wimbledon Park.  His grandfather had left money left in trust for the children’s education and Jim was sent to Kings College School, Wimbledon.  However, the trustees misappropriated the funds and he had to leave school before matriculating at 17.
BRIEF CAREER OUTLINE: After gaining his degree and a Dip.Ed., Jim was appointed Head of the English department at Dulwich College. A colleague describes him as ‘a missionary head of English.  I liked him enormously.  In the moments of relaxation from burning with a hard, gemlike flame (or whatever it is) he could be very funny indeed. He was someone of  complete integrity and as outstandingly good teacher.’ 
In 1962 Jim was appointed first Head of English at the new Church of England teacher training college – Christ Church College, Canterbury, where he remained until 1982.  During this time he taught Shakespeare, Victorian and Modern Literature, as well as administering the English Department. (H.G)
1949-1962: Head of English Dept., Dulwich College
1953: MA (Cantab)
1962-1982: Principal Lecturer: Christ Church College, Canterbury
Chair: Univ. London, Institute of Education Standing Committee in English
1956-1984: English Examiner (O & A levels) & Univ. Lon.B.Ed degrees
1975: General Editor: Macmillan Student's Hardy Series
1979: Ph.D, London
1979:General Editor of Macmillan Master Guides to English Literature
1985-1990: Founder and Editor, Thomas Hardy Society Journal
1992-1995: Chair of the Thomas Hardy Society
1976: Editor, Thomas Hardy: The Complete Poems, (Macmillan)
1979: Editor: The Variorum Edition of the Complete Poems of Thomas Hardy (Macmillan)
1996: Thomas Hardy: A Literary Life (Macmillan)
1999: Thomas Hardy: Interviews and Recollections (Macmillan 1999)


James Gibson

21, Abbot's Walk,
Cerne Abbas
Dorchester DT2 7JN


Jim was a Founder Member & Vice President
The Thomas Hardy Association
Vice President
The Thomas Hardy Society

King’s College School, Wimbledon  1932-6
After leaving school, Jim worked in the London office of a large Sheffield firm, Newton Chambers.  In 1937 he was earning £2 a week.  He joined the T.A. in 1938, and was called up in 1939.  Newton Chambers sent him parcels throughout the war.
War Service   Army 1939-46
He was in the Royal Army Service Corps, serving in France, narrowly escaping death in the retreat to Calais, arriving back in England on the ‘Kohistan’, the last boat to leave Calais ahead of the advancing German army.  He was then posted to Egypt, achieving the rank of Captain in 1942, and was engaged with local resources work, often working in ‘mufti’ obtaining food and other supplies for the Army.
A life-changing moment occurred in Egypt at the end of the war, when, at the suggestion of his British Council friend ‘Buckles’, Jim wrote 20 letters.  He wrote 10 applications to Oxford colleges and 10 to Cambridge colleges.  On his return to England in May 1946, there were 20 replies,  Nineteen said that without matric he was not qualified, but the twentieth, Queens’ College, Cambridge offered him an interview, and he began reading English that year.  He regarded the opportunity to immerse himself in the best of English literature in the Cambridge of peacetime England as a wonderful experience. (H.G)


St Michael’s Church     Stinsford

Service of Thanskgiving
for the Life of
James Charles Gibson
Friday 22nd April, 2005 1.00pm 
Conducted by
The Rev. Janet Smith
Organist : Barry Ferguson
Selection from Vesper Voluntaries, Elgar
Selection from Hardy Interludes: Barry Ferguson
Ave Verum Corpus: Mozart
HYMN: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind.
READING: I Kings 19vv1-13
MUSIC: Bist du bei mir, J..S.Bach
Claire, Tony, Tessa
HYMN: The Lord’s My Shepherd.
POEM: Great Things, Hardy
MUSIC: Prelude on Mt Ephraim
From Hardy Interludes, Barry Ferguson.
POEM: When I Set Out for Lyonnesse, Hardy
MUSIC: Vesper Voluntary No.7, Elgar.
PRAYER: David;s Prayer for Jim.
HYMN: All People That on Earth Do Dwell.
POEM: The Oxen, Hardy.
MUSIC: Final Chorale from St.John Passion, J.S.Bach
Fugue in C, Buxtehude
Air from Suite No.3, J. S.Bach
Donations for Cancer Research, UK: c/o Grassby Funeral Service, 8 Princes Street,  Dorchester.
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