In Memoriam of Professor Margaret M. McGowan CBE FBA FRSA (1931-2022) & Clement Crisp (1926-2022)

It is with great sadness that I write to report the passing last week of eminent dance historian Professor Margaret McGowan CBE FBA FRSA.

Professor McGowan was an influential pioneer of dance research, beginning in the days before dance was accepted as a subject within British universities. Located in French Renaissance studies, she continued throughout her life to promote dance as an academic discipline through her publications, editorial work, mentoring, external examinership, and often largely unseen support in reviewing grant and manuscript applications. Her book, L’Art du Ballet de Cour en France, 1581-1643 published in 1963 was based on her doctoral studies and became a classic text, original in its insistence on placing dance in its political and cultural contexts. Her 2008 publication, Dance in the Renaissance. European Fashion: French Obsession (Yale University Press) won the prestigious Wolfson History Prize.

Alongside her work at the University of Sussex from 1964 as Dean of the School of European Studies (1977-1980), Pro-Vice-Chancellor (1981-1986) and Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (1992-1998), she continued to advocate for dance scholarship. In 1993 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, in 1998 was made a CBE, and in 2020 was appointed Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, a rare honour. She was a President of the Early Dance Circle and throughout her very full academic career was extremely active in promoting dance in interdisciplinary academic contexts.

As Associate Editor of Dance Research, Professor McGowan devoted many hours supporting the research and writings of both established and newer scholars in dance. Dedicated and tireless in her pursuit of dance research, she was intending to present the keynote paper at the forthcoming Oxford Dance Symposium (her paper will instead be presented by the organisers) in April.

On a personal note, I will miss her wise and careful counsel, her extensive knowledge, and kindly support. Always scrupulously fair and open-minded, presenting opinion only after studied consideration of all sides, she was rigorous in her scholarship and demanded the same high standards that she required of herself. Tributes are currently being paid on social media from a wide spectrum of our dance community. In accord with her wishes and those of her surviving husband Professor Sydney Anglo, there is to be no funeral nor memorial service. Let us, at least, strive to honour her memory by pursuing the goals of dance research with the same unswerving tenacity as well as visit or revisit her prolific and remarkably innovative publications.

Clement Crisp (1926-2022) 

The financial times says

“The critic Clement Crisp — brilliant, outrageous, erudite, shocking, hilarious, mercurial — has died at the age (it is finally revealed) of 95. For more than 60 years, his prose distinguished the arts pages of the Financial Times, always with eloquence, panache, expertise and astounding wit”

Read his obituary: