Odds and Ends

Edmonton | Family | Who am I? | Recommendations | Sicily | Interesting sites

Picture Gallery

Edmonton and University

  1. Edmonton downtown (66K): Autumn view across the river from my office in the Humanities Centre, University of Alberta (Fuji digital camera MX-700).
  2. Hub Mall (56K): our nearest eating and shopping place, just a few steps from the Humanities Centre through a passageway.
  3. The entrance to the English Department (74K), Humanities Centre.
  4. The Humanities Centre, from the south (77K).

Family portrait gallery

  1. Self-portrait, 1995 (73K). At First, overlooking Grindelwald in Switzerland, working hard on the travel section of Romanticism: The CD-ROM.
  2. Sylvia Chard (82K), my wife, at a local park west of Edmonton (May 1998) -- the Clifford E. Lee nature reserve. See also this portrait photo (141K) in black and white (May 1998). You can jump to her web site here.
  3. My first wife and son (104K) -- taken in 1977 in Wales: Valerie with two-year old Laurence.
  4. Family portrait, c. 1952 (92K) -- I am about four years old, on the right. The family was living at this time at Patcham (102K), near Brighton, Sussex. We moved to North Acres (113K), Streat, in the country ten miles north of Brighton in 1953, where I lived until I went to London as a student in 1963.
  5. My father, Stuart Miall (1903-1977), as a young man, c. 1921 (82K). Stuart worked as a mechanical and electrical engineer and journalist. After the Second World War he published his very successful encyclopedia, The World of the Children.
  6. My grandfather Derwent Miall with his wife Kathleen and children (123K), taken in 1907. Derwent wrote several mystery novels, such as The Powers of Darkness, A Threefold Threat, and was a prolific writer of children's stories for magazines such as Magnet and Chums.
  7. My great-grandfather, Arthur Miall (63K). Arthur (1839-1927) is mainly remembered by us as the biographer of his father, Life of Edward Miall (London: Macmillan, 1884). He practised as a lawyer in Streatham, South London.
  8. My great-great-grandfather Edward Miall (137K), c. 1870 (his dates are 1809-1881). A Congregationalist minister, MP for Bradford, and editor for some thirty years of the Nonconformist. He campaigned for the disestablishment of the Church of England, as noted by this contemporary Vanity Fair cartoon and description. See also his DNB entry.

Who am I?

Thumbnail biography. Born January 1947 at Brighton, Sussex, England (a very snowy winter, I'm told), the fifth and last of my family. Educated at a small Montessori school in Patcham near Brighton until I was eleven. But we moved to a house in the country when I was six, so I had to commute for over an hour a day to get there -- by bicycle for two miles to Ditchling, then a long bus ride. I wandered about the woods and hills a lot on my own as a child. I acquired a passion for dragonflies and, later, Shelley's poetry and the novels of Thomas Hardy. Then I transferred to a grammar school in Brighton at eleven, where I gradually lost interest in school (can you believe this? They made us join a cadet army, and parade about in uniform on Friday afternoons!). I left at 16 to go to music college in London, where I studied pianoforte, composition, and the oboe. I met my first wife Valerie there; shortly after graduating from music college in 1967 we married.

I taught music for a few years, and tried to make a career as a film music composer, but this was a signal failure. I turned to literature instead, and in 1972 went to the University of Stirling to begin an English degree (I was now aged 25): given an admissions interview there by Grahame Smith, then senior lecturer in English. I later took two courses with him: he remains my ideal teacher. Our son Laurence was born in 1975 while we were living at Abderdona Cottages in the country ten miles east of Stirling. In 1976 I went to Cardiff as a Tutorial Fellow in the English Department at University College where I also worked on a doctorate. My wife by now had suffered several nervous breakdowns. She was to die in January 1982. In 1979 Laurence and I moved to Cheltenham, where I taught at the College of St Paul & St Mary after helping the college start a new Humanities degree. I met my second wife here, Sylvia Chard. We took a year's leave in the USA at the University of Illinois in Urbana in 1982-83, and married while there (got married at the city gaol, which is where they did such things in Urbana).

After a few years at Cheltenham, where Sylvia and I were both still teaching, we became increasingly anxious about the Tory government's destructive higher education policies. We decided it was time to move. Sylvia secured a professorship in education at Alberta in 1989: we moved to Edmonton that summer. I obtained a position in the English Department the following year. Laurence is in his fourth year as a student at Alberta, studying political science. We all think the U of A is a great place to work, and we can't think of anywhere we'd rather be. The main thing we miss about England are the relatives we left behind, and the English pubs (the imitations in Edmonton are really nothing like, believe me). But we return to Europe for a week or more every summer, usually including visits to France and Germany where some of our grandchildren are now being raised.

Laurence (1994)

My co-worker (1998)


A few recommendations

Visit to Sicily, 1999

Sylvia and I spent two weeks travelling in Sicily during late June and early July. Here is a small sample of the places we visited (click on thumbnail to enlarge):

Web sites of interest (to me)


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Last updated Sunday November 26th, 2000