Obituary: Ronald Mason

Click to follow
The Independent Online
May I add a footnote to John Tydeman's most evocative obituary of Ronald Mason [20 January]?, writes Merlin Holland.

In 1989 one of the official Westminster Abbey guides, tired of having to make apologies for the absence of my grandfather Oscar Wilde in Poets' Corner, wrote to Donald Sinden for help.

He in turn got in touch with Ronald, who by then was in retirement and already suffering quite badly from emphysema. Astonished, as he put it to me, by this per-ceived slight on a fellow Irishman, he drew on many years of friendship with leading figures in the literary and theatrical world asking for their support in a proposal to the Dean and Chapter.

The Dean, Michael Mayne, a former Head of Religious Programmes and a colleague of Ronald's, was enthusiastic about including Wilde in the newly commissioned south transept window in time for the centenary of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Without Ronald Mason's taking the initiative, despite his ill-health, Wilde might still be waiting. The ceremony on 14 February 1995 drew the biggest Poets' Corner crowd since Byron's inclusion in the 1960s.