Sir Michael Edwards, a former member of staff at Warwick, has become the first Briton to enter the prestigious Académie française, France's highest learned body charged with defending the purity of the French language.
A poet, critic and literature professor, Sir Michael was a founding member of Warwick's French Department, lecturing here from 1965 - 1973. He then returned to the University in the late 1980s as Professor of English, and was Head of English & Comparative Literary Studies from 1992 - 1995. He went on to become emeritus Professor of literary creation in English at the Collège de France in Paris.
He was elected to join the highly exclusive Académie by standing members in February 2013, becoming its first native English speaker. As is customary, he has had to wait more than a year for his induction ceremony.
Sir Michael had said:
I am very happy that I became an academic and my countrymen are very proud. A Brit has forced open the doors of the Academie, It's a sort of victory for the English. The queen knighted me partly because of this."
The Académie française was created in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu to establish rules for the French language to make it "pure, eloquent", comprehensible to all and a tool for arts and sciences. Members' responsibilities include advising on which new words should be entered into the French dictionary.