Oxford Brookes mourns death of PhD student, broadcaster and author Frank Delaney

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Frank Delaney - Credit Jerry Bauer

Staff and students of the Department of English and Modern Languages were saddened to hear of the death of author and broadcaster Frank Delaney in Connecticut yesterday.

Frank was introduced to the department a few years ago by Brookes lecturer in creative writing, novelist and Frank’s friend Dr Morag Joss. He started a PhD two years ago, with the research topic Under Janus: An Irish Writer’s inquiry into the forging of a post-colonial literary identity, under the supervision of Professor Simon Kövesi.The project was going to attempt to assess his own published work, specifically novels about the holocaust in comparison with his historical fiction set in Ireland.

Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Frank enjoyed a remarkable career leading literature programming on BBC Radio across the 1970s and 1980s – writing and presenting long-standing shows such as Word of Mouth, Omnibus and Meridian. He was a Booker Prize judge in 1982, chair of the Book Trust, and wrote bestselling novels and popular critical studies. Latterly, his weekly podcast analysing James Joyce's Ulysses, was a major focus. It was hugely popular, having been downloaded more than 2.5 million times. Frank led sessions for our MA Creative Writing students, and hosted their writing showcase at the Pegasus theatre in 2015.

My PhD supervisions with Frank were a joy and a privilege. Oxford Brookes was lucky to have even a brief association with him, and many of us were lucky to benefit from his vast experience in the literary world, and his capacious desire to understand. His productivity and his passion for literature were just remarkable.

Professor Simon Kövesi, Head of English and Modern Languages

At the time of his death, Frank was finishing a new novel, and working with a production company on his film script – an adaptation of one of his early novels, set in Ireland. Filming was due to start this summer.

Frank Delaney with MA Creative Writing students

Frank Delaney with MA Creative Writing students at the 2015 annual showcase.

With Frank’s passing we have lost a very dear friend. He was a man of great gifts, and a unique and generous intelligence, spirit and wit. He was thrilled to be a PhD student at Brookes, and was working with his inimitable passion and vigour right to the end.

Dr Morag Joss, Lecturer in Creative Writing

Watch Frank Delaney celebrate James Joyce and the end of copyright on his work by reading from Ulysses to the public in Madison Square Park in 2012 in the short film below.

It was wonderful to have Frank as part of our research student community and he was keen to contribute to it. He was a true gentleman and scholar, whose considerable charm and great stories will be sadly missed.

Charmian Hearne, Research Administrator

Access to his podcasts and a wealth of information about Frank, can be found on his website. Public comments on Frank’s passing have been led by the President of the Republic of Ireland, while obituaries have appeared in the New York Times and the Irish Times.

Photograph of Frank Delaney © Jerry Bauer