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In Memoriam: Charles Robinson

Nov. 29 and 30 services for professor emeritus of English literature

Charles E. Robinson, professor emeritus of English literature and a member of the University of Delaware faculty since 1965, died on Nov. 20, 2016, at his home in Arden, Delaware, with his wife, Nanette, by his side.

Prof. Robinson was remembered by colleagues and former students for his dedication to teaching and scholarship and for his kindness, caring and enormous generosity. Many described him as a "star" of the Department of English who epitomized the phrase "a gentleman and a scholar."

He influenced many in the community and gave to all who needed him, recalled John Ernest, chair of the department.

"The English department has lost its most fervent supporter, its brightest star, its most devoted friend," Ernest wrote about Prof. Robinson. "His spirit will always be a part of who we are. We are blessed to hold him in our memories, blessed to carry on the work he loved. There was no one remotely like him, though we would all benefit from trying to learn from his exemplary approach to life."

Dennis Jackson, retired professor of English, was a colleague for 29 years who said that Prof. Robinson "brightened my day" whenever the two talked.

"I always enjoyed his friendship and good humor. He was highly energetic and particularly involved in the lives of our graduate students, helping them prepare their resumes and portfolios before they applied for jobs in a tight market," he wrote in a public note of condolence.

Prof. Robinson was born in West Virginia and earned his bachelor's degree in English from Mount St. Mary's College and his doctorate in English from Temple University. He joined the University of Delaware as an instructor in English in 1965 and was named an assistant professor in 1967, associate professor in 1973 and full professor in 1980. He retired from teaching in 2013 but continued directing dissertations and providing service to the Department of English.

Prof. Robinson's enthusiasm and love of Romanticism captivated his family and his students.

He authored and edited multiple texts of literary criticism and concern, including Byron and Shelley: The Snake and Eagle Wreathed in Fight and Lord Byron and His Contemporaries: Essays from the Sixth International Byron Seminar. He also published the two-volume diplomatic edition of The Frankenstein Notebooks, a detailed study of the original writings, to determine the role played by Mary Shelley's husband, Percy, in the creation of Frankenstein.

Prof. Robinson served as director of graduate studies in English at UD, executive director of The Byron Society of America and co-chair of The Byron Society Collection at UD. He was on the board of directors of The Byron Society of America, the International Byron Society and the University of Delaware Press.

His family recalled the way he always encouraged the creative pursuits of his children and his grandchildren, inspiring his grandchildren's love of reading by gifting books on every holiday and reading to them over the phone and during visits.

In addition to his wife, Prof. Robinson is survived by his children, Clare and John Robinson (Jodi), grandchildren Ava and Locke Robinson and sister Francie.

A visitation will be held from 6-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 29, at McCrery and Harra Funeral Home, 3924 Concord Pike (U.S. Route 202, south of Silverside Road), with additional, overflow parking available in the rear parking lot of the Brandywine YMCA, 3 Mount Lebanon Road.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 30, at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, 10 Old Church Road. Interment in Arden Memorial Garden will be held privately.

The family suggests honoring the memory of Prof. Robinson by sending a contribution to: Little Sisters of the Poor, 185 Salem Church Road, Newark, DE 19713; or The Ministry of Caring, 115 East 14th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801-3209; or Mount Saint Mary's University, 16300 Old Emmitsburg Road, Emmitsburg, MD 21727.

UD's Department of English has established the Charles Robinson Scholarship Fund to support graduate students with their travel, accommodations and registration to annual conventions, academic conferences and research. To contribute to the fund, click here

Messages of condolence may be sent to the McCrery and Harra website.

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