Jane Moody

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TRIBUTES have been paid to Professor Jane Moody, the director of the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre, who has died from breast cancer, aged 44.

Educated at Ward Green Primary School, Barnsley, and Wakefield Girls’ High School, Jane Moody was a scholar of St Edmund Hall, Oxford, and Advisor to Women at Oriel College Oxford, before being appointed to a research fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge.

In 1997, she joined the University of York’s Department of English and Related Literature. She held international fellowships at the Huntington Library at San Marino, California and at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. She was able to keep working until just over two weeks before her death.

Jane Moody was deeply involved in the planning and design of the distinctive Humanities Research Centre in the £11m Berrick Saul Building at York, and became its first director in 2010.

In the award-winning building, which will serve as her abiding legacy, she fostered the kind of environment that postgraduates from many disciplines want to work in and scholars love to visit.

Committed to demonstrating the public value of humanities research, she was passionate about developing strong links between the university and the city of York. She was a regular contributor to local press and radio, as well as to national broadcasts.

In June this year, she co-directed York’s first Festival of Ideas whose founding principle was to explore intriguing links between past and present, showcasing contemporary ideas, arts and culture. It brought together a range of world-class speakers, exhibitions, performances and artistic endeavour and attracted more than 8,000 people to more than 20 different events.

Her first foray into authorship was as an undergraduate editing Complete Quirks in 1987, marking the mass retirement of several fellows from St Edmund Hall’s legendary English department. She had a passion for 18th and 19th century theatre: her acclaimed study of Illegitimate Theatre in London, 1770-1830 was followed by The Cambridge Companion to British Theatre, 1730-1830. She also co-edited a collection on Theatre and Celebrity in Britain 1600-2000.

Jane Moody was appointed to a personal chair in 2004 and served as the research chair in the Department of English & Related Literature.

The department’s top ranking in the UK was due in no small part to her strategic intelligence, and her gift for helping other people to make the most of their research.

She was a member of the Peer Review College for the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and served on the governing body of the Wakefield Grammar School Foundation.

She sang with the Vale of York Voices, the choir that led the singing at her marriage to Professor Greg Kucich, of Notre Dame University, Indiana in 2009. She was the eldest daughter of David and Sue Moody of Stainborough, Barnsley and aunt to seven nephews and nieces, the children of her two sisters and brother.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of York, Professor Brian Cantor said: “Jane was an extraordinary individual who left an indelible mark not only on the university but also on world of scholarship. She was an inspirational teacher and researcher and a steadfast friend. She will be missed by all who knew her.”