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Randolph Quirk (1920-2017)

In memoriam: Lord Randolph Quirk


It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Randolph Quirk, Founder of the Survey of English Usage. 


Randolph was born on 12 July 1920 on the Isle of Man. He studied at University College London, where he later became Quain Professor in English Language and Literature. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of London from 1981 to 1985.

Quirk became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976 and was knighted in 1985. He was President of the British Academy from 1985 to 1989 and became a life peer as Baron Quirk, of Bloomsbury on 12 July 1994.

Quirk is well-known for founding the Survey of English Usage at UCL in 1959, but most of all for the monumental Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language (1985), which he co-authored with Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik. This book, which became known as Quirk et al. is one of the great standard reference grammars of English.

Quirk’s autobiography (in the form of an interview with Keith Brown) appears here:

Randolph’s memory will be cherished by his colleagues at the Survey.

We send our deep condolences to Lady Gabriele Stein.

Bas Aarts
Director, Survey of English Usage

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