Jack Bennett was photographed in Auckland in 1931, not long before he departed for Oxford on a University of New Zealand postgraduate scholarship. A specialist in Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature, by the end of the 1930s he was a junior fellow at Queens College, Oxford. At the pinnacle of a brilliant academic career, in 1963, he was appointed to the C. S. Lewis Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English at Cambridge. Of working-class background, Bennett was very poor as a student, and his success was hard-won. He deeply missed New Zealand, and in particular his holiday haunt of Coromandel, returning for visits in 1939 and 1972. After the death of his second wife in 1980 he planned to visit again: 'I hope I shall see the coast of Coromandel, and you again', he wrote to friend Eric McCormick. The following year he made it as far as Los Angeles, but died there with friends, waiting for the final flight to New Zealand.
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Oxford University Press
Reference: Charles Brasch, Indirections: a memoir 1909-1947. Wellington: Oxford University Press, 1980
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