Roll of Honour


Peter Alexander


Shakespearean scholar and academic, Peter Alexander was born on 19th September 1893 in Glasgow. His father, Robert, was a schoolmaster and his mother, Christina, was a schoolmistress. Peter attended John Watson\'s school in Edinburgh and later Whitehill secondary in Glasgow. His father died in 1900. Peter went up to the University of Glasgow in 1911 to begin his studies for an Arts degree. In his first year Peter studied Mathematics and Latin; in his second, Moral Philosophy and English and in his third, Logic, History and English. He was a successful student and took his place close to the top of his class in most subjects, with distinctions in English, Logic and History. On a path to continue with Honours in English the war interrupted and in July 1916, Peter was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He served on the Western Front and was promoted to Captain.

Memorial chapel at the University of Glasgow
The Memorial Chapel at the University of Glasgow

On his safe return, he picked up the threads of his studies and completed a First Class Honours in English, again with several distinctions in his exams in Literature, Language, and Italian for Honours English students. He graduated in 1920 as the most distinguished First of his year and was awarded the George A Clark scholarship, which enabled him to further his research and travel to France and Italy. In 1921 he was appointed as a lecturer in English at the University of Glasgow, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1935 he became Regius Professor of English Language and Literature. Though not regarded as an innovator in his department, he was an impressive lecturer and the author of several books on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare\'s Life and Art (1939) and Hamlet: Father and Son (1955). When his life\'s work, The Complete Works of Shakespeare: The Alexander Text was published posthumously, it was greeted with critical acclaim and was used by the BBC for its cycle of plays.

Honours conferred upon him included fellowship of the British Academy (1951), Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1964, and an LLD from the University of Aberdeen in 1966.

Professor Alexander retired to St Andrews and died on 18th June 1969. He was survived by his wife Agnes Effie Macdonald, who had been a fellow student, and two of their sons, the third, Peter having been killed at Normandy in July 1944.

Comments and Citations

University of Glasgow Registry, Faculty and General Council Records

Philip Hobsbaum, \"Alexander, Peter, (1893-1969)\", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004