In Memoriam: Priscilla (Tilly) Washburn Shaw (1930-2015)

To: UC Santa Cruz Community

From: Public Affairs Office


Priscilla (Tilly) Washburn Shaw, born in Massachusetts, September 25, 1930, died peacefully at her home in Santa Cruz surrounded by her friends, July 21, 2015.

A literary scholar, poet, and UC Santa Cruz faculty member in Literature from 1966 to 1993, Tilly Shaw arrived with the opening of Stevenson College in 1966-67, as a visiting faculty member from Yale. She was hired by the Board of Studies in Literature in 1967, one of few tenured women in UCSC’s early days and the only tenured woman in literature.

In addition to her published work on Valery, Yeats, and Rilke, she developed a specialist interest in Conrad and Lawrence in the ‘70s and Levertov, Plath, Sexton, and especially Adrienne Rich in the ‘80s. She particularly loved the stimulating interdisciplinary atmosphere of those early days at UC Santa Cruz.

One of the first among her peers at UCSC to become interested in feminist studies and women’s writing, she determined to teach half her classes on women authors every year from the ‘80s on. She brought her gifts for close reading— of people as well as texts—and for listening, to her students and to those she counseled for years in Santa Cruz’ Co-Counseling program.

A celebration of her life is being planned for late September. Donations in her name to Poetry Santa Cruz are most appreciated.

Read the full obituary published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.