The Telegraph has a good obituary for Bruce Mitchell, whose Guide to Old English I own and consult with pleasure. I had no idea he was Australian, that one of his students was Terry Jones (of Monty Python), or that he’d had such a hard row to hoe early on:
Family circumstances prevented him from taking up the offer of a free place at Melbourne University, and after leaving school aged 15 he began work as a student teacher. At the same time he enrolled as a part-time student at the university, where he took a general Arts degree. Memories of the hard slog of holding down a full-time job while studying for a degree, he confessed, meant that he had little sympathy with Oxford students who failed to write their essays.
And I completely agree with him about anachronistic punctuation:
One of Mitchell’s particular concerns was the way in which modern translations add punctuation to Old English texts in ways that distort their meaning. In a seminal article, The Dangers of Disguise: Old English Texts in Modern Punctuation (1980), he drew attention to the way in which punctuation (the semicolon was a particular bugbear) – developed after the advent of printing – tended to destroy the ebb and flow of Old English poetry and prose, denying the reader insights into texts whose syntactical structure developed out of a tradition of oral storytelling.
Thanks for the link, Paul!