Peter T. Ricketts, Honorary Professor at the University of Birmingham, died suddenly on the 6th May 2013, at the age of eighty. He was in the midst of several major projects. To name but two: the completion of volume 3 of his vast database of medieval Occitan texts in verse and prose, the Concordance de l’Occitan Médiéval (Brepols); a French translation of Martín de Riquer’s three-volume anthology, Los trovadores.
Peter Ricketts was formerly the James Barrow Professor of French in the University of Liverpool and subsequently, until his early retirement, Professor of Romance Philology in the University of London, Queen Mary and Westfield College, of which he was an Honorary Fellow, as well as Emeritus Professor.
A tribute has been posted on the site of the Association internationale d’études occitanes. He was the AIEO’s first President, from its foundation in 1981 to 1990:
Peter Ricketts had just been awarded the title of maître-ès-jeux of Toulouse’s Académie des Jeux Floraux, a poetic society founded in the city in the year 1323, on May 3rd.
Awarded the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques
Awarded the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
Given the Docteur honoris causa (Université de Toulouse - Le Mirail) in 2010
Professor Peter Ricketts was formerly the James Barrow Professor of French in the University of Liverpool and subsequently, until his early retirement, Professor of Romance Philology in the University of London, Queen Mary and Westfield College, of which he was an Honorary Fellow, as well as Emeritus Professor. He was also Honorary Fellow in the Institute for Advanced Research in Arts and Social Sciences of this University.
His research interests included Romance philology and French linguistics, Medieval French language and literature and Medieval Occitan language and literature. He was a member of the International Courtly Literature Society and the Medieval Academy of America, and was the founding president of the Association Internationale d’Etudes Occitanes, where he was General Editor of its publication series until 2005, and was re-elected to its Council in 1996. Apart from the recognition of his services to French culture awarded by the French government, and by the British as O.B.E., his position as one of the leading scholars in the field of Medieval Occitan language and literature has been marked by the following distinctions: the Médaille de la Ville de Montpellier (effectively making him a freeman of the city), Sòci of the Felibrige (the poetic academy founded by Frédéric Mistral), Member of the Comité d’Honneur of the Revue des Langues Romanes and (until 2005) Vice-President of the Centre de Recherche et d’Expression des Musiques Médiévales, Pennautier (Carcassonne). A homage volume of articles by colleagues marking his contribution to the field of Romance studies was published in 2005. He was Visiting Professor at the Ecole Nationale des Chartes, Paris, in 2006-2007. Last year, in 2010, he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Toulouse Le-Mirail.
Before his death, he was pursuing his research on several fronts. He was collaborating with Ann Buckley (Maynooth, Eire) on an edition of the texts and music of the lais of Medieval French, Franco-Occitan, Latin and German, shortly to be published in three volumes. A further collaboration with Barbara Walters (CUNY) and Vincent Corrigan (Bowling Green, Ohio) led to a study of the Corpus Christi movement in 13th century Liège, along with the edition of text and music of 21 poems, published in 2006. His work towards the completion of the edition of the Breviari d’Amor, in collaboration with Cyril Hershon, a huge encyclopaedic text in verse, has advanced and the totality of the text is now available, with a re-edition of vol.5 to appear shortly, to be followed by the two remaining volume, containing the introduction, bibliography and glossary. Also with Cyril Hershon, a critical edition of the second half of the Vida de Sant Honorat has just appeared in 2007. He had also bee working on a critical edition of the Occitan translation of the Old French La Somme le roi, the Libre dels vicis e dels vertutz, which has never been published. In collaboration with Alan Reed, FRP Akehurst, John Hathaway and Cornelis van der Horst, the Concordance de l’Occitan Médiéval has now moved beyond its second phase, which has added to tranche 1 (troubadour poetry) a further tranche (narrative texts in verse), published by Brepols in 2005: the third tranche (prose), for which work is well advanced, should be out by 2012. Leading an international team, the edition of the Elucidari, the Occitan version of the De proprietatibus rerum by Bartholomeus Anglicus, is progressing.