We are sad to record the death on 28 July of Sir Albert Sloman (1921-2012), who was Gilmour Professor of Spanish at the University of Liverpool between 1953 and 1962.

Sir Albert was the third Gilmour Chair, appointed at the age of 32 to follow in the illustrious footsteps of James Fitzmaurice-Kelly and Edgar Allison Peers. He read Spanish and French at Wadham College, Oxford from 1939-41, served in the RAF during the War, and then returned to Oxford to pursue his doctoral research in 17th-century Spanish drama, with a thesis on ‘The Sources of Calderón’s El príncipe constante‘ under the supervision of WJ Entwistle. His DPhil was awarded in 1948.

In 1946, while still a postgraduate student, Sloman took an instructorship in Spanish at Berkeley, followed by a Readership in Spanish the following year at Trinity College Dublin, where he expected to remain for the rest of his career.In a 1995 interview with Keith Tribe, published in Tribe’s Economic Careers,* Sloman recalled:

[The Gilmour Chair] was founded in about 1908 by a person called Gilmour who was very much interested in the use of Spanish for commerce in Latin America. In 1952 Allison Peers died, and Liverpool invited me to come and take the Chair, a decision which I found very difficult, because in Trinity Fellows were there for life. You died in harness at about the age of 90. There was no retirement. But I took the chair in 1953 and stayed there until I was appointed to Essex in 1962. (p.226)

He would stay in Liverpool for nine years, during which time, he worked to develop Peers’s legacy, remembering:

 I was pretty busy as Head of the Department – because it had a journal which I wanted as editor to make into a scholarly journal .. At the time I was appointed to the Chair in Liverpool at the age of 32 my thoughts were not about running a university. I was really interested in my own discipline, seeing if I could put Liverpool and, indeed, British Hispanism on the map (p.226).

This he achieved, as Anne Mackenzie wrote in 1993 in a special issue of that journal, the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies**:

The transformation of the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies from a highly respected ‘Record and Review of their Progress’ – of interest to general teachers of the subject as well as to specialists -, into an exclusively research-journal of internationally outstanding reputation was arguably at Liverpool, as Geoffrey Ribbans has expressed it, ‘Sloman’s great achievement’ … Thanks in substantial measure to Sloman’s essential changes, nearly forty years later ‘the publication of the Bulletin of Hispanic Studies is one of the factors which brings most prestige to Liverpool within the humanities throughout the world (pp.4-5).

Twenty years on, the BHS remains one of the discipline’s journals of record. We in Liverpool remember this and Sir Albert Sloman’s many other achievements with respect and gratitude.

Further information: Telegraph obituary; University of Essex obituary.

* Keith Tribe, Economic Careers: Economics and Economists in Britain 1930-1970 (Psychology Press, 2007).

** Ann Mackenzie. ‘Introduction‘. Bulletin of Hispanic Studies LXX (1993): 1-15 [paywall; free first-page preview]

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