Professor Charlotte Erickson

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The Independent Online

Arriving at the LSE in the autumn of 1956, I was allocated Charlotte Erickson as my tutor, writes Roy Sturgess [further to the obituary by Negley Harte, 16 July]. At my first meeting I found her newly installed in a shared, small room high up in the New Building. It was a cosy, crowded room, cluttered with books and part-opened boxes, and filled with an atmosphere of what I could only later recognise as female homeliness.

Being very conscious that she was an American and wanting to be provocative, and realising somehow that it was safe to be so, I offered her the fruits of my working-class, provincial experience and said that all Americans were conformists. She immediately replied in kind, and with a smile, that the British were also conformists, because they all thought they were nonconformists. She was extremely accommodating of my personal uncertainties and showed me such an unvarnished respect that I had to begin seeing myself through her eyes. Meeting her was like being with a supportive parent, a challenging friend and a deep source of wisdom all at the same time.