Elected: 1975
Discipline: Language, Literature and History
Sir Kenneth James Dover FBA FRSE
Kenneth James Dover was born in London on 11 March 1920, the cherished only child of Percy (Pop) and Dorothy Dover. Early brilliance in Greek at St. Paul’s school was followed by an outstanding performance as a student at Balliol College, Oxford with a first in both Mods (1940) and Greats (1947). The intervening years, 1940-1945, were occupied by army service in Egypt, Libya and Italy. After a relatively sheltered early life this was a fundamentally life-changing experience, and years afterwards Dover would still reminisce about the earthy attitudes – and language – of the men he met at that time. But he returned promptly to the seclusion of academic life, becoming a fellow at Balliol in 1948. This was soon after his marriage, which was to be long and conspicuously happy, to Audrey (Latimer) in March 1947. There were two children: Alan (born 1948) and Catherine (born 1950).

Then, in 1955, came a turning point in Dover’s career. To the surprise of many (in both north and south) he accepted appointment as Professor of Greek at the University of St. Andrews, electing to leave a comfortable niche in a well-populated classical environment and instead to face the challenge of heading a tiny Greek department, albeit one with a long and distinguished history. It is remarkable – and will seem incredible to today’s academics, harried by constant demands for continuing publication – that at that time Dover had published no books at all (unless we count his revision, 1954, of Denniston’s Greek Particles) and only a few articles. However, the appointment was visionary: books soon began to pour out and the stream continued over many decades. The very first was Greek Word Order (1960), an austerely precise linguistic study matched by the very last, The Evolution of Greek Prose Style (1997).

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