Eric S. Rump (22 June 1937 – 21 March 2014)
Eric became a member of the Department of English at York University in 1965. In the same year, the Keele Campus was officially opened. It was determined that Glendon College would become the bilingual liberal arts college with its own curriculum and would be led by Escott Reid as Principal. This bilingual liberal arts focus would establish Glendon College’s distinctiveness as a faculty at York. In 1968 or 1969, Escott Reid asked those who were there if they wanted to transfer to the Keele campus or stay at Glendon. Eric chose to stay at Glendon.
At Glendon Eric taught a number of courses, including “Studies in the Novel” and “Shakespeare”, and he shared and helped develop the English Department’s second-year foundation course, “The Literary Tradition of English”. This was a team-taught course that also involved invited lectures by a number of his colleagues at Glendon. Some stayed to sit in on Eric’s famous lectures on Restoration Drama. He would be teaching Congreve’s Way of the World and suddenly, abruptly, start performing Lady Wishfort’s lines. He was fantastic! The students loved his impersonation – he certainly gave Brian Bedford a run for his money! He had the voice, the mannerisms, and exactly the right accent! Few had known about Eric’s acting in the past at the University of Cambridge where, at Pembroke College, he met Peter Cooke, and then other thespians, such as Dudley Moore and Derek Jacobi. Eric could have chosen to go that route but he chose academia and came to do his doctorate at the University of Toronto. During his graduate days, he did some acting and even had a notable part in David Sector’s sixties film Winter Kept Us Warm. As an aside, he played up his recent acting part in a Baycrest Hospital tely-medicine shoot. Doctors in rehab needed a nice room and a pleasant, attractive patient who would simply lie there silently looking, well, patient. Eric apparently created quite a stir on the third floor.
His special courses were “Restoration and 18th Century Literature,” which he taught mainly for Glendon, but sometimes for the Faculty of Arts, and “Restoration and 18th Century Drama,” which he taught for Graduate English. Restoration Drama had been his thesis area (“The Drama of William Wycherley”) and his research specialty. He published a number of what critics termed “admirable editions” with Penguin Books: The School for Scandal and Other Plays and The Comedies of William Congreve. There were also articles on Sheridan and others, years of writing for the Canadian Annual Review (“Drama: English Canada”), as well as conference papers.
This area of his passion was a perfect match for Eric’s personality!
A scholar and a gentleman he embodied the wit, the civility, the easy conviviality and sociability prized by these writers and their ideal characters. These traits were enjoyed by us all and on display at the Senior Common Room, where Eric was a much-welcomed regular for lunch. A master of cheerful banter, he would amuse us all. But as a friend, one also knew his generosity, his optimistic spirit and, another part of Restoration sensibility, his upholding of the moral imperative, personal kindness. He was a “true wit,” a kind, thoughtful man, and much loved.
Eric leaves his sister, Eileen Clark, his nephews, Matthew and Stephen, his great niece Jessica and his great nephews, Oliver and Joseph, and many, many friends in Ontario, British Columbia, England and Australia. A funeral service was held on 6th May at the Chapel of St. James-the-Less.
Memorial donations may be made to The Baycrest Foundation, or to the Canadian Opera Company, or at Glendon to the Janet Warner Travel Award (which Janet’s family hopes can be renamed the Janet Warner and Eric Rump Travel Award).