North American Scholar

BAILEY, David Roy Shackleton

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1917-12-10
  • Parents: John Henry Shackleton, headmaster of Royal Lancaster Grammar School, & Rosamund Maud Giles B.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 2005-11-29
  • Death City: Ann Arbor
  • Death State/Country: MI
  • Married: Hilary Ann Bardwell, 1967-75; Kristine Zvirbulis, 1994
  • Education:

    B.A. Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, 1939; M.A., 1943; Litt.D. 1958; Litt.D. (hon.) University of Dublin, 1984.

  • Professional Experience:

    Fellow, Gonville & Caius, Cambridge, 1944-55; univ. lecturer, Tibetan, 1948-68; praelector, 1954-55; deputy bursar, 1964; sr. bursar, 1965-68; dir. studies in classics, Jesus College, Cambridge, 1955-64; visiting lecturer in classics, Harvard, 1963; prof. Greek & Latin, 1975-82; Pope Professor of Latin Language & Literature, 1975-82; prof. of Latin, University of Michigan, 1968-75; Visiting Andrew V.V. Raymond Professor of Classics, State University of New York, Buffalo, 1973-74; vis. fellow, Peterhouse, Cambridge, Eng., 1980-81; fellow, British Academy, 1958; member, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1975; member, American Philosophical Society, 1977; member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1986; Goodwin award, APA, 1978; NEH fellow, 1980-81; Kenyon medal, British Academy, 1985.

  • Notes:

    D.R. Shackleton Bailey (1917-2005), “Shack” as he was called by his close friends, was educated at the Royal Lancaster Grammar School, where his father was headmaster, and showed an aptitude for Classics at an early age. As a schoolboy he developed his own program to develop his knowledge of the languages: “I decided that every day I would read privately a quota of Greek or Latin, one hundred lines of verse or four pages of prose in an Oxford text….It proceeded sentence by sentence, with a dictionary and usually a translation and/or commentary for checking. The sentence would then be read aloud. At the end of the paragraph or other appropriate stopping-place, the sentences covered would be read aloud consecutively. At the end of the day’s ration, I would traverse its content in a mental review.” He consistently followed this regimen throughout his life (increasing the amounts of the daily reading) and recommended it to his students. In this period he developed an interest in Cicero’s letters, which he read in the Tyrrell and Purser edition shortly before matriculating at Cambridge and again shortly after graduating. Bailey achieved a “first” in Classics at Cambridge, Part 1 of the Tripos, but he opted to offer Oriental languages (Sanskrit and Pali) for Part 2, possibly motivated by a desire to skirt a heavy dose of history and philosophy, which at the time loomed large in the exams. He learned Tibetan and was eventually appointed lecturer in that language. Though students were few, Bailey produced scholarly articles and reviews in this field from 1948 to 1955. His crowning achievement as an Orientalist was a critical edition of two Sanskrit hymns to Buddha by the first/second-century CE poet Mâtrceta. While at Cambridge, Bailey attended the last lecture of A.E. Housman, whom he described as an “indeterminate little man with a scraggy moustache” who delivered his subject, the manuscripts of Catullus, in a “clear but monotonous” voice. The encounter, though brief, was clearly formative and no doubt partly influenced Bailey’s decision later to dedicate his first book on a classical author, his Propertiana, “to the shade of A.E. Housman.” Like Housman, Bailey over the years won enormous respect for his ability to make use of existing evidence and arrive at the correct interpretation of a problematic passage. Unlike Housman, he formed a true bond with the authors he edited, particularly Cicero, whom he felt should be judged “Not as a statesman, moralist, and author, but as the vivid, versatile, gay, infinitely conversable being, who captivated his society and has preserved so much of himself and it in his correspondence.” After war service at Bletchley Park, Bailey taught first at his old college, Gonville and Caius. His move to Jesus College in 1955 coincided with a move away from Oriental to Classical Studies, signaled quite prominently by the publication of Propertiana, a collection of adversaria (notes discussing textual problems) on some 400+ individual passages taken from the elegies of Propertius, to which is added an appendix comprising parallel passages and reminiscences of words and phrases in every poem in the poet’s four books of poems. His longstanding interest in Cicero’s letters led him to produce an Oxford Classical Text of books 9-16 of Letters to Atticus, which appeared in 1961 (Books 1-8 by A.S. Watt, 1965). By moving back to Gonville and Caius in 1964 as deputy and later senior bursar (financial officer), he was relieved of teaching duties and so able to complete in five years the six massive volumes of his magnum opus, a text, translation, and commentary on the whole corpus of Atticus letters, published in six volumes from 1965 to 1968. He rounded out the collection by publishing in 1977 a two-volume text and commentary edition of Cicero’s Letters to his Friends (Ad Familiares) and in 1980 a single volume of text and commentary on the letters to Cicero’s brother Quintus and to Marcus Brutus. In 1985 the British Academy, to which he had been elected in 1958, honored all ten volumes of his edition of Cicero’s letters as “one of the great monuments of twentieth-century scholarship,” by conferring upon him the coveted Kenyon Medal. Bailey had a great affection for cats. His move from Jesus back to Gonville and Caius is said to have been precipitated when the Master of Jesus (Sir Denys Page) refused to permit a “cat-flap” to be cut in the sixteenth-century oak (outer door) to Shackleton’s rooms for his beloved white cat called “Donum,” a gift from Frances Lloyd-Jones. Bailey is said to have expressed the view that “Donum was more intelligent than any human being whom I have ever met.” The cat accompanied its master from Cambridge to Ann Arbor. Volume 1 of the Letters to Atticus was dedicated to Donum, and a later, beloved brown tabby, “Max,” is the dedicatee of Onomasticon to Cicero’s Letters. His marriage in 1967 to Hilary Bardwell, the ex-wife of novelist Kingsley Amis, required him to find new quarters outside of college. At the invitation of his friend John D’Arms, Bailey joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where his wife opened an English-style fish-and-chips shop, which she wittily named “Lucky Jim’s.” The dissolution of his marriage in 1974 was soon followed by a move from Michigan to Harvard as professor of Greek and Latin and then (in 1982) as Pope Professor of Latin Literature and Language. To his Harvard years belong a steady flow of publications, on average four or five articles per year, three to four reviews yearly, and books ranging in subject from Roman nomenclature to a translation of the complete corpus of Cicero’s letters, a study of Horace, and Teubner texts of Horace, the Anthologia Latina, Lucan, and Cicero’s letters to Atticus, letters to his friends, and letters to Quintus and Brutus. He also edited Harvard Studies in Classical Philology (1980-1, 1983-5). Upon reaching Harvard’s mandatory retirement age of 70, Bailey, very much against his wishes, was forced to give up his post in 1988. He moved back to Ann Arbor, where he taught until 2002, married again, and produced in the seventeen years of his retirement eighteen Loeb volumes, more than have been produced by any other editor in that series. Translation had always been intrinsic to Bailey’s editing process: “ideally an editor of a text should translate it, whether or not the translation is published. The discipline is almost sure to bring out points that would otherwise go unnoticed.” Bailey produced three volumes of Martial, eight volumes of the complete corpus of Cicero’s letters, to which is appended the treatise of electioneering attributed to Cicero’s brother Quintus, two volumes of Valerius Maximus, three volumes of Statius, and two volumes of the lesser declamations attributed to Quintilian. In his 1959 essay on Housman, Bailey defended the exercise of massive learning and intelligence upon small points of textual variation: “I am no philosopher…, but I will risk two not specially original suggestions. First, a pursuit which engages the interest of a considerable number of intelligent people can empirically be reckoned ‘worthwhile.’ Second, a society which cares only for work that is somehow aimed at the satisfaction of its lust for power or its physical appetites…should be in a fair way towards an inglorious end, of bombs or boredom.”

  • Sources:

    "A Ciceronian Odyssey," Selected Classical Papers (Ann Arbor, 1997) , E.J.Kenney, Independent (4 January 2006), Ruth Scodel, Times (22 December 2005), Richard Thomas, Harvard Gazette (8 December 2005); APA Newsletter (December 2005) 11-13; WhAm (2006) 194; John T. Ramsey Proc. Am. Phil. Soc. 152,2 (June 2008) 267-78

  • Author: John T. Ramsey