Obituary: Professor John Fennell

MICHAL GIEDROYC's obituary of Professor John Fennell (18 August) rightly emphasised his distinction as an historian - one of only a handful in Western Europe - of medieval Russia, writes Professor Marcus Wheeler.

But, as a teacher, John Fennell was a man of many skills, including that of expounding Russian grammar in masterly and graphic fashion: and one of his consequential claims to fame is as the author of The Penguin Russian Course (a creative adaptation of Nina Potapova's Russian), on which during the past 30 years thousands of students of Russian in schools, colleges and evening classes have been nurtured.

Fennell's versatility was also displayed in his selection of poems by Pushkin in the Penguin Poets series (1964) to which he contributed effective prose renderings and an admirably succinct biographical introduction.

In addition, he was over many years a joint editor of the scholarly Oxford Slavonic Papers.