Leavis, F. R. (1895–1978) By Atkinson, Kate
Frank Raymond Leavis was an influential, though controversial, literary critic and teacher who was raised and educated in Cambridge, England, where he eventually held a permanent academic position. In 1929, he married a student, Q. D. (Queenie Dorothy, née Roth [1906–81]), with whom he engaged in a lifelong intellectual partnership. Known for his uncompromising intellectual stances, Leavis built on the tradition of journalism-based criticism by articulating the role of the academic critic in English. After taking eight years to produce his first book, New Bearings in English Poetry (1932), Leavis published prolifically, covering topics in poetry, the novel, and English education, always seeking to address questions of the worth and objectives of reading. Leavis dedicated a large part of his career to interpretations of the work of modernist writers D. H. Lawrence and T. S. Eliot, of whom he claimed, ‘our time, in literature, may fairly be called the age of D. H. Lawrence and T. S. Eliot’; indeed, Eliot’s own critical writings from the 1930s were an important early influence on Leavis (Storer 54). Leavis had publicly antagonistic relationships with some scholars, including C. P. Snow; despite his intellectual combativeness, he is respected as one of the founders of the modern study of English literature.