New ABL Director Gets 'Thunderous' Texas Welcome

Sept. 19, 2003
News Photo 1562Dr. Stephen Prickett

by Alan Hunt

A Texas thunderstorm gave Dr. Stephen Prickett, the new director of Baylor's Armstrong Browning Library, an unexpected opportunity to sample some Lone Star hospitality.

Storm clouds formed menacingly last month as Prickett and his wife, Patricia, prepared to fly out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport for Waco. But the weather worsened and they were delayed for hours - finally arriving at Waco Regional Airport at 1:30 the next morning.

There, still patiently waiting to give the Pricketts a warm Waco welcome, were Dr. Tom Charlton, acting director of Baylor's Texas Collection and professor of history, and his wife, Dr. Rebecca Sharpless, director of the Institute for Oral History and senior lecturer.

"You have to look kindly at Waco after that," Prickett said. "They had been waiting there at the airport since 9:30 the night before, our original estimated arrival time.

"Then, when we got to the hotel in Waco, there was a huge bouquet of flowers waiting for us from the staff at Armstrong Browning Library. It was such a lovely welcome."

The holder of dual British and Australian citizenship, Prickett and his American-born wife moved to Waco last month. He said they have been "amazed" by the hospitality they have received.

Prickett is one of the foremost scholars of religion and literature and a leading scholar of 19th century life. He said he is impressed by Armstrong Browning Library and its unique holdings, which include the world's largest collection of memorabilia relating to Victorian poets Robert Browning and his wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Prickett said his aim is its continued enhancement as a major resource for 19th century British studies and as "one of the best Victorian libraries anywhere."

Prickett served as the Regius Professor Emeritus of English Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and as a visiting scholar at Duke University. He succeeds Dr. Mairi Rennie, who retired after six years as director of Armstrong Browning Library to return to her native England.

The new director was born in Sierra Leone, the son of Methodist missionaries, and was educated in Canterbury, England. He received degrees from Cambridge and Oxford universities before going to teach in Nigeria from 1963-65. He completed his doctorate at Cambridge in 1968 and taught at the University of Sussex, England, for 15 years before his appointment as the chair of the English department at the Australian National University in Canberra, where he taught from 1983-89.

His other posts include visiting professorships at Smith College, the University of Minnesota, Denmark's Aarhus University and the National University of Singapore.

Prickett has published one novel, nine monographs, seven edited volumes and more than 80 articles on Romanticism, Victorian studies and related topics, especially on literature and theology. He also has participated in various radio programs broadcast on BBC, Australia Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Belgrade.

For more information, contact Prickett at (254) 710-4963.

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