Terence DuQuesne: Obituary for a Pagan

by Alexander Baron

Egyptologist, classical scholar and author Terence DuQuesne died in a Croydon hospital, Thursday, April 17; he had been ill for some time. The following obituary was compiled with some assistance from his executor.

Born at Cambridge in 1942, he won scholarships to Dulwich and Oxford. He was the author or co-author of more than a dozen books including the 1964 critical bibliography Catalogi Librorum Eroticorum, and the 1986 study Britain: An Unfree Country, which he co-wrote with Edward Goodman. His expertise led to his being invited to write the entry for imiut in the on-line UCLA Encyclopedia Of Egyptology. He also published three volumes of his own poetry including Caduceus.

By the age of 13, the young Terry Deakin was already reading Greek poetry in the original. He is said to have claimed that one of his main motivations for learning ancient Greek was to be able to read Sappho in her original language. In 1990, he published a translation of her works after rejecting earlier renditions as “dull and distorted reflexions”.

Terence Duquesne was active in the Libertarian movement; in 1986 he published Illicit Drugs: Myth And Reality for the Libertarian Alliance. This was presented to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

He was also a practising pagan, and in his will dated June 8, 2004, he directed “on no account shall my body be buried or the ashes from my cremation be placed in ground consecrated to the Christian religion”. His patron deity was Anubis, the jackal-headed God of the Dead, and it is hardly surprising that he should have published a new translation of the Egyptian Book Of The Dead.

By the end of his life, he would celebrate each Pagan festival of the year by writing a new poem which he would circulate to his friends.

At the time of his death, he was working on a new edition of The Poems Of Sappho, and on the second volume of The Jackal Divinities Of Egypt, the first edition of the latter was published in 2005; the new edition of the former is being finalised and will be published soon.

Although he had at least one long term relationship, James Terence Duquesne never married. He left the bulk of his estate to a fellow author, and “my unpublished research notes and other unpublished materials in the field of Egyptology to the Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford”.


One comment

Leave a Reply