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Peter Cochran, 1944-2015: A Tribute

It was with great sadness that Cambridge Scholars learned of the death of Dr Peter Cochran in May this year. Peter died of a brain haemorrhage after suffering from ill health for some time, but passed away peacefully surrounded by his family. He is survived by his daughters Emily and Abi, and his grandchildren Lewis and Leila.

Peter was one of the world’s leading authorities on Lord Byron and Byron studies, and was one of Cambridge Scholars’ most prolific authors. He wrote extensively and insightfully on many aspects of Byron and his work, lectured on him across the globe, and edited the poet’s works and correspondence for the website of the International Byron Society. He also received the Elma Dangerfield award in 2005 for his edition of Mihael Rees's translation of Teresa Guiccioli's Lord Byron's Life in Italy.

Peter wrote 19 books on Byron for Cambridge Scholars, editing the complete works of Byron in 13 volumes, in addition to Byron and Orientalism“Romanticism” – and ByronByron and Italy, and, most recently, Byron, Napoleon, J.C. Hobhouse, and the Hundred Days.

Peter had extensive experience on stage as both an actor and director, not only of Byron’s plays, but also of the works of Shakespeare. He was in Sir Trevor Nunn’s first ever Shakespeare production in 1959, and later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. His experience on stage combined with over 25 years of teaching English and Drama gave him a professional theatre practitioner’s perspective shared by few other writers.

In the words of Dr Christine Kenyon Jones, Research Fellow at King’s College London, “All of us will have our own memories of his ebullience, his wit and humour, his enthusiasm, his strong likes and equally strong dislikes, and the powerful sense of his presence in a room, which was perhaps related to his abilities as an actor and director. He was at his most stimulating when often also at his most combative, and the individuality of his ‘take’ on Byron (which was often painfully critical for many of us) gave an edge and excitement to what otherwise might be bland or over-academic debates.

“I have sometimes thought the effect of Peter’s presence may have been a little like that of Byron himself—intelligent, generous, funny, enthusiastic, challenging and always interesting and exciting, although sometimes also a little alarming. Through his scholarship, energy, friendship and exceptional generosity, Peter has helped to bring countless people into the Byron ambit, and to make us all better Byron scholars and critics, and his work and his memory will live on through the Byron community in that most positive of ways.”

A memorial will be held at Clare College, Cambridge in October. Please contact his daughters through if you would like to attend.

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