Obituary: Howell Daniels

Howell Daniels, scholar and administrator: born 19 September 1932; Lecturer in English and American Literature, University College, Aberystwyth 1960-65; secretary, Institute of United States Studies, London University 1966-90; died London 8 June 1993.

HOWELL DANIELS was one of the key figures in the development of American Studies in Britain. As the first Secretary of the Institute of United States Studies, a post which he held from 1966 to 1990, he performed a series of small miracles in establishing and sustaining the role of the institute as a national centre for the study of the subject, despite the constraints imposed by its small size and inadequate resources. He worked under three different directors, but, by a combination of irresistible charm and unfailing dedication, he put his own personal stamp upon the institution which he served so well.

He combined the roles of teacher, scholar and administrator; above all, his life's work was to encourage, promote and facilitate the work of others, from the most tentative graduate student to the most distinguished visiting American professor. As organiser of conferences and colloquia, as editor and critic, as counsellor, guide and friend, he helped the cause of American Studies, and advanced the cause of numerous scholars, with little thought for his own personal interests. Civility and conviviality were the hallmarks of the many meetings which he held at the institute.

Whether in speech or on paper, his style was elegant, allusive, witty, but never cruel. He published articles on Henry James and more generally on American expatriate writers. He was a considerable authority on James, and had imbibed much of the master's subtlety and sensitivity. However, to picture Howell Daniels as literary scholar and academic administrator, at home in the cultural and academic life of the metropolis, is to see only half of the man. His Welsh roots were the key to much of his character and outlook. After a brilliant undergraduate career at University College Aberystwyth, and years in the US and at Oxford, he returned as a young lecturer to Aberystwyth, where he was responsible for the introduction of American literature into the syllabus. It is fitting that one of his last public addresses was a lecture of dazzling wit and brilliance at an American Studies conference in Aberystwyth in 1990. He always maintained his family connections in Pembrokeshire, and had even more friends there (if that were possible) than in London. When he retired from the institute in 1990, there was never any doubt that he would settle in his beloved Tenby.

He was the most loyal of colleagues, the most congenial of companions, and the truest of friends. His achievements are not to be measured by the formal procedures of assessment so much in vogue today, but those who knew him will never doubt the importance of his contribution. He bore the tribulations of his later years with massive dignity and heroic patience. He was sustained by the affection of countless friends, but above all by the love of his two devoted daughters.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: Human Resources Manager

£28000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: A successful organisation...

Recruitment Genius: Internal Recruiter - Manufacturing

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Internal Recruiter (manufact...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager (CIPD) - Barking / East Ham - £50-55K

£50000 - £55000 per annum + 25 days holidays & benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Man...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Project Manager

£40000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company specialis...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent