Roger Clark obituary

Other Lives: Lecturer on literature and film who wrote guides to the work of Ian McEwan and Guillermo del Toro

My friend Roger Clark, who has died aged 70, was a passionate and inspiring lecturer who taught generations of appreciative students at York St John University about the joys and complexities of literature.

Born in south London, to Margaret (nee Hoskin), a personal assistant, and her husband, Terry Clark, a Battle of Britain night fighter and accountant, Roger won a scholarship to Dulwich College and then did two literature degrees at the newly established University of York from 1969 onwards, followed by teacher training at Southampton University.

He subsequently taught English at Haywards Heath comprehensive school in Sussex (1974-76) and Newport Free grammar school in Essex (1976-79) before moving to the College of Ripon and York St John as a lecturer in English and American literature. He remained at the college (now York St John University) until his retirement in 2010, by which time he was a senior lecturer, specialising in contemporary literature including film. I met him when I joined the English department the year after him, and we were colleagues there for 30 years.

At York St John, Roger was able to demonstrate his extraordinary depth and breadth of knowledge, especially of literature, film, art, music and their interconnections. An engaging, collaborative, popular yet modest colleague, he loved teaching and was endlessly creative. Graduates often testified that they found his classes life-enhancing.

He also wrote on literature, including, with Andy Gordon in 2003, a Continuum Contemporaries Guide to Ian McEwan’s novel Enduring Love, and, in retirement, a book on Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican film director (Guillermo del Toro: Film as Alchemic Art, 2015), co-authored with Keith Macdonald. After the book’s publication he was invited to the Toronto launch of Del Toro’s exhibition At Home with Monsters , where he met and dined with Del Toro himself.

Writers respected Roger. He maintained long friendships with the poet and novelist Helen Dunmore and the New Zealand poet Robin Healey. McEwan commented favourably on his criticism, and the York-born novelist Kate Atkinson, whom Roger wrote about and interviewed, sent condolences on his death.

A devoted family man, he lived life at twice the speed of most. Exceptionally fit and healthy, he completed numerous fundraising marathons, started fell-running in his 40s, and swam in the sea all year round minus wetsuit, claiming that he found the water warm.

Frontal lobe dementia cruelly overtook Roger’s last years, bringing him to the same care home as his father, who predeceased him, aged 101. Sadly, they no longer knew one another.

Roger is survived by his wife, Lesley, (nee Harrington), whom he married in 1975, and their three children, Kate, Joe and Robin.

Gweno Williams

The GuardianTramp

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