Elizabeth Mackenzie has died at the age of 100 years. Her life was dedicated to studying and teaching English literature, especially the poetry of the 17th and 20th centuries.
Elizabeth’s profound and lasting association with Lady Margaret Hall began in 1941 when she came up to read English. Her undergraduate studies were interrupted by war service, as she worked from 1943 to 1946 in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, before completing her degree (First Class Honours) in 1947. After a few years as Librarian in the English Faculty Library at Oxford, Elizabeth’s whole career from 1951 to her retirement in 1988 was centred on LMH, where she was in turn Fellow Librarian, Official Fellow and Tutor in English, and from 1981-88 Vice-Principal. In retirement she remained affectionate and attentive to LMH. She is a major benefactor of the College.
Elizabeth’s students remember with some awe her range of expert knowledge across four centuries, from Shakespeare to Yeats, Auden, and Seamus Heaney. They also appreciate her perceptive, concise teaching style and her quiet respect for each individual. She enjoyed music and at times looked after students reading Music at LMH.
Her disposition was scholarly, private, and humane. She was both generous and somewhat sceptical in her observations as the world changed around her.
Elizabeth lived with medievalist Patricia Kean, whom she met when they were both undergraduates at LMH and who pre-deceased her in 2011, in historic Latchford House in Great Haseley where for several decades they cultivated a scholarly life and, unusually, bred Afghan hounds.