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Prof Edgar Lythe

Professor S G Edgar Lythe, economic historian; born November 26, 1910, died February 7, 1997

PROFESSOR Edgar Lythe will be remembered as a gentle Yorkshireman and dedicated teacher who made an indelible mark on the understanding of Scotland's economic history and on the development of Strathclyde University. As an economic historian, he published British Economic History in 1950, The Economic History of Scotland 1100 to 1939' with John Butt in 1975 and, in 1960, his groundbreaking The Economy of Scotland in its European Setting 1560-1625. First and foremost a university teacher, he believed in making history accessible to people in the wider community. In the 1960s he played an important part in the local history movement and was a founder member of the Abertay Historical Society, one of Scotland's most successful local history organisations. Under his influence, the society moved from an organiser of public lectures to encourage local research. A stream of pamphlets, several edited by Professor Lythe followed. Edgar Lythe gained an MA at Selwyn College, Cambridge, and took up his first lecturer's post at Hull University. In 1935, he moved to Dundee where he joined Dundee School of Economics, an institution which survived thanks to the Bonars, a wealthy textile family. It awarded degrees from London University and was absorbed into Queen's College of St Andrews University, precursor to the University of Dundee. During the war the young academic joined RAF fighter command and later the RAF's education branch. His ship was torpedoed en route to Belgium after the Allied invasion of Europe. After the war, he returned to Dundee and worked as a lecturer at Dundee School of Economics and then Queen's College following amalgamation in 1955. In 1962, he moved to Glasgow to take his first chair as professor at the Royal College of Science and Technology which became Strathclyde University a year later. With the late Sir Kenneth Alexander, Professor Lythe worked from a derelict building with one typist to create the school of arts and social studies in a new university orientated towards the sciences. His popularity and unstinting hard work made him influential and he became friendly with Strathclyde's first principal, Sir Samuel Curran. Professor Lythe served as Dean of the faculty of arts for nine years before his appointment as university vice-principal in 1972, a post he held until retiral in 1976. He continued his association with Strathclyde for a further two years when he helped establish the university archive. Throughout his retirment Professor Lythe never lost his enthusiasm for history. In 1981, he co-wrote a history of Dundee School of Economics and he produced a set of pamphlets on the local history of Walkington, his native Yorkshire village for which he retained much affection. He was actively working on a new pamphlet until the day before he died at his home in Broughty Ferry, Dundee. Edgar Lythe was an accomplished carpenter and handyman who enjoyed gardening and the company of his wife, Joan, with whom he grew up in Walkington and whom he married in 1938. For many years after his retiral the couple lived in Pollokshields where Professor Lythe was editor for many years of the inter-denominational Pollockshields Guardian. Three years ago, the Lythes returned to Dundee to be close to their daughter, Charlotte, a senior lecturer in economic studies at the University of Dundee. Professor Lythe's funeral will take place today at the University of Dundee Chaplaincy at 11am.

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