Obituary: Rachel Trickett

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The Independent Culture
MAY I add a few words to Michael Gearin-Tosh's moving obituary of Rachel Trickett [30 June]? writes Gabriel Josipovici. She was a wonderful teacher; the English writers from Chaucer to Browning were friends, not "texts", and she showed by example how it was possible for one to be friends with them too.

Her study hardly contained a secondary work, but the complete works of the major and minor authors of six centuries were there to hand. Being taught by her made me feel a life spent studying and teaching literature need not necessarily blunt the soul, and that teaching and writing could co-exist. Though she was in a sense quintessentially Oxford, she was far from parochial. In her time in America she had got to know such men as John Frederick Nims, the poet, and Virgil Thompson the composer, and was a friend of Erich Heller's when he was at Swansea. Above all, she was never a poseur, but the most natural and spontaneous person in the world. None of her friends or pupils will forget her deep laugh, rising in her chest and rolling down her throat - a surprising characteristic given her imposing appearance, but one which immediately put one at one's ease.