Fonds Brittain - Frederick Brittain

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JCPP/Brittain

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Frederick Brittain

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(1893 - 1969)

Biographical history

Freddy Brittain was born on 24th October 1893 and was the eldest son of William Brittain and Elizabeth Daniels. He was educated at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Barnet.

During World War I he worked on board the military hospital ship 'HMAT Egypt'. He went up to Jesus College in 1919 and took the Medieval Languages tripos. After graduation he lived at Oratory House and undertook free-lance teaching. In 1937 he was elected as a Fellow of Jesus College.

His academic career centered on Romance literature, especially Provençal and Medieval Latin, in which latter subject he was University Lecturer. In 1948 he was awarded his doctorate for works on the lives of St Radegund and St Giles, 'Latin in Church' and 'The Medieval Latin and Romance Lyric'. In 1962 he published a Penguin Anthology of Classical, Medieval and Modern Latin Poetry.

He served two terms of University Proctorship from 1943 - 1948. He acted as Steward of the College from 1945 - 1954 and was editor of The Cambridge Review from 1942 - 1948.

He was a church man and his Christian faith was an important influence in his life. He was a chorister at his parish church in South Mymms as a boy. He studied and wrote about the use of Latin in church services.

He enjoyed rowing as an undergraduate and did some coaching alongside Steve Fairbairn. He possessed a unique collection of books on rowing and co-wrote a history of the Boat Club.

He gave most of his time and energy to his College. It is said that he was the first person returning students went to see when they visited the College and he possessed a remarkable talent for remembering not only their names but their academic careers whilst undergraduates and their subsequent careers.

He got to know many of the undergraduates so well through his membership of the Roosters. This Society was founded in 1908 as a light-hearted debating society and he was an active member of it from when he first joined as an undergraduate himself in 1919. He was heavily involved in writing its rules, debating, and organizing a fund raising campaign to raise enough money to commission a portrait of Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch by Sir William Nicholson.

He loved singing and acting and as an undergraduate he was a member of 'The Footlights'. He wrote many plays, performed, often dressed as a woman, in plays and pantomimes and liked to enliven lectures by singing troubadour songs in the Old Provençal language.

He was well known in college for having a collection of over a thousand cockerels. He bought the first one but all subsequent ones where gifts from friends.

He loved the country and especially his home village of South Mymms. This is seen most easily in his various books about the place: 'History of South Mymms' 'Tales of South Mymms and Elsewhere' and 'Mostly Mymms'.

He was close friends with Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch and Bernard Manning and wrote biographies not only of them but many others too.

He married Muriel Cunningham in 1959.

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Note

He is usually known as Freddy or Freddie Brittain but because there are two spellings Frederick Brittain has been used in the catalogue entries

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