Professor Emeritus George Leonard (Len) Jones (1937-2023)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Professor Emeritus George Leonard (Len) Jones who died on December 11, 2023. Len joined the University College of Wales Aberystwyth in 1979 as a Professor of German and as Head of the Department of German, Russian and Swedish after a period of 16 years lecturing at University College, Cardiff.  He remained at Aberystwyth until his retirement in 1998. His time at Aberystwyth was rather challenging, with Swedish and Russian closing down, but German continued, and through Len’s tireless efforts the Welsh-medium element within the Department was strengthened.

Len was born in December 1937 in Manselton, Swansea. Having turned down an offer of trials with Swansea Football Club, he studied German at University College of Swansea and received a 1st Class degree in 1958.  He went on to undertake postgraduate studies at Swansea and at Jesus College, Oxford, where he was a Senior Meyricke Scholar. He also spent a period at the University of Basel (Switzerland). While he was a research student, he learned Welsh. Len was a perfectionist and his mastery of the Welsh language, and of German, was so thorough that it surprised many that he had not learned either language at home as a child. He worked hard to promote and expand the use of the Welsh language within the Department at Aberystwyth although this often meant more work for him in preparing additional classes in Welsh, particularly as the necessary resources were not always available in Welsh.

Eighteenth-century literature was Len’s main area of research, but he also published, in collaboration with John Gwilym Jones, a Welsh translation of Dürrenmatt's play, ‘Ymweliad yr Hen Foneddiges’ (Der Besuch der alten Dame). The famous playwright, Bertolt Brecht, was something of a hero to him and he wrote a book about him which appeared in the series ‘Y Meddwl Modern’. He was an astute literary critic with a talent for expressing complex ideas in an understandable and clear way.

Like many a lecturer in a relatively small Department, Len taught a wide range of subjects during his career, not once complaining that he was unable to concentrate on his specialist areas. Over the years he constantly adapted his courses as the curriculum for modern language teaching in schools changed. He introduced new courses such as German for Economists and German for Musicians. He was an inspiring teacher who was eager to share his interest in German language and culture with his students, and his enthusiasm was contagious. Although he had very high standards, he never belittled his students, and he always did his best to inspire them and nurture their talents. He was an extremely kind and supportive colleague whose door was always open to students and colleagues.

As a Department and as a University, we extend our deepest condolences to Len's family.

Professor Emerita Wini Davies