Chapter

William Smith Watt, 1913–2002

R. G. M. Nisbet

in Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 124. Biographical Memoirs of Fellows, III

Published by British Academy

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263204
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734205 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197263204.003.0018

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

William Smith Watt, 1913–2002

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W. S. Watt, known to his friends as Bill, was one of the leading Latin scholars of his time. His long and energetic life makes an impressive story. To look back at it prompts reflection on the changing patterns of education and scholarship in the 20th century. In 1952 Watt was appointed Regius Professor of Humanity in the University of Aberdeen. He became an excellent lecturer who made the right answer very clear even to the less experienced. He gave thought to the future of his best honours students, some of whom with his encouragement moved on to Oxford or Cambridge and pursued successful careers in classics or other fields. He still based his teaching on prepared books and prose composition, following the tradition that was changing in other universities; essays on Latin literature (as opposed to ancient history) were not required, but in later years he set passages for linguistic and literary comment, a form of exercise that is perhaps not practised enough.

Keywords: Latin scholar; University of Aberdeen; Regius Professor of Humanity; Oxford

Chapter.  5958 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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