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Susan Manning

Professor of English Literature known for her work on the Scottish Enlightenment;

Born: December 24, 1953; Died: January 15, 2013.

Susan Manning, who has died aged 59, was a multi-faceted academic, mentor and mother whose love of words was silenced too soon. A gifted educator, her breadth of knowledge stretched far beyond her own research fields of the Scottish Enlightenment and Scottish-American literary relations and her expertise and ability to inspire were recognised on the international stage.

Her death, following a stroke, prompted tributes from around the world from fellow academics and former students who admired not only her talents but her lack of ego, her generosity and her truly original mind.

Born in Glasgow, the daughter of medical physicist James Valentine and his wife Honora, a philosophy graduate, she attended John Mason High School in Abingdon near Oxford after moving south when she was nine. She proved to be an excellent student in science and humanities and could have succeeded in either field but chose English.

After leaving school, having become head girl, she spent a gap year in Canada, Paris and Grenoble before going up to read English at Newnham College, Cambridge.

Following her graduation with a BA in 1976 she began her PhD on Scottish and American literature, winning a Harkness Fellowship to Charlottesville in Virginia. Returning to Cambridge she took up a research fellowship at Newnham College in 1981, becoming a college lecturer in 1984 and later faculty lecturer.

She continued her PhD though it took her 10 years to gain – a decade that spanned the births of her three daughters with her husband Howard Manning, a physicist she met while at Cambridge and married in 1976.

Combining motherhood and her career was the pattern at Cambridge for almost 20 years, a feat she managed with dexterity. That ability to successfully juggle multi-functional roles was also a trait that became evident when, in 1999, she surprised everyone by moving to the University of Edinburgh to take up the Grierson Chair in English Literature.

Latterly she was director of the university's interdisciplinary Institute for the Advances Studies in Humanities (IASH), having previously been research director and postgraduate director in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures.

Despite her busy working life being punctuated by illness – she was diagnosed with lupus following a bout of meningitis, underwent a serious bowel operation and suffered lung disease – she carried on regardless, overcoming each new health hazard, bubbling with achievement and enthusiasm.

She was a marvellous administrator, an inspiring mentor and an excellent manager with an ability to bring the work of different researchers together: all attributes that enabled her to make IASH a vibrant centre with international renown.

She was on the advisory board of the Edinburgh Confucius Institute and of several scholarly editions and journals including the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels, the Stirling/South Carolina Edition of the Works of James Hogg, and the Cambridge University Press Studies in Romanticism Series. Her own publications included The Puritan-Provincial Vision and the transatlantic study Fragments of Union.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, and a trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust, which sends scholars to further study in the US, and the Rothschild Fellowships in Jerusalem, she was also a trustee of Edinburgh University Press and a member of the Gifford Lectureships Committee and the research committee of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

She co-edited a monograph series on Transatlantic Literary Studies, was a board member and past president of the Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies Society and a board member of the international body, the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes.

She co-ordinated the Carnegie-funded STAR (Scotland's Transatlantic Relations) initiative and convened its seminar and research projects.

Along with Dr Nicholas Phillipson she also convened a three-year research project on The Science of Man in Scotland which led to an essay collection on Character, Self and Sociability in the Scottish Enlightenment.

Latterly she was brimful of ideas for her next project, having completed her latest one – a monograph on The Poetics of Character: A Transatlantic Literary History, which will now be published posthumously. She is survived by her husband Dr Howard Manning, their daughters Laura, Lindsay and Sophie, granddaughter Poppy, her mother Honora, sister Claire and brother John.

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