Call Number: SC1163
Evans, J. Martin (John Martin),
Title: J. Martin Evans papers
15 Linear feet and 216 megabytes
Language(s): The materials are in English.
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[identification of item], J. Martin Evans Papers (SC1163). Dept. of Special
Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford,
John Martin Evans was born in Cardiff, Wales, on Feb. 2, 1935. After a two-year stint
working in military intelligence for the Royal Air Force from 1953 to 1955, Evans
attended Oxford, where he received his BA in 1958 from Jesus College, and his MA and
DPhil from Merton College in 1963. At Oxford, his thesis advisor was Dame Helen Gardner,
the doyenne of 17th-century studies. Under her guidance, he began a lifelong career in
Milton studies. Gardner was influential in other ways: She convinced Evans to apply to
Stanford when the academic job market in Britain was so poor that 250 scholars with
doctorates in English were competing for two university positions.
Evans was offered the job, and immediately flew to Switzerland and proposed to Mariella
Lafranchi, whom he had met at Oxford. He didn't know half her family had emigrated to
California decades before; Evans moved into a large extended family in the United States
and never looked back.
In 2004, the Milton Society of America named him as a prestigious "honored scholar" for
He hosted a 400th birthday party for John Milton in 2008, with a marathon reading of
Paradise Lost – some called it a "Martinfest." The event reunited many of his former
students from across the United States and Canada.
At his death, he was in his 50th year of teaching at Stanford. He held many awards for
his teaching and service, including the Bing Award for teaching (1992), the Richard W.
Lyman Award (1990) and the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching (1984). The 1987
Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching cited "the magnificence of his teaching
at all levels of the department curriculum" and "the passion about literature that
infuses all his teaching and writing."
Evans was associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences (1977-81), director of
undergraduate studies (1983-86) and chair of the English Department (1988-91). He was
named the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in 2002.
He was a champion of the humanities, and passionate in their defense: "The humanist's
material is not a mysterious concatenation of natural phenomena or a mass of raw
statistical data waiting to be given significance by the ordering mind of the analyst,"
he wrote in a 2009 article in Stanford magazine.
Evans was survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Mariella Evans of Stanford; his
daughter Jessica Evans, his son-in-law Yung Duong and grandson, Owen Evans-Duong, all of
Oakland; and his daughter Joanna Evans and son-in-law David Harris of Ojai, Calif.
English literature--Study and teaching.
Universities and colleges--Faculty.