The following appreciations appeared in the Jubilee edition of the Latin Teaching Journal in 1973
I cannot remember exactly when and where I first met Tommy Melluish, but it was more than thirty five years ago, and almost certainly in London. He and I were both Londoners, both brought up and educated in South London, and in the years of our acquaintance before the last war we were both teaching in London schools, and l was at the time living near the Bee School where he served for so long, winning for the school its high academic achievement in Classics.
It was, however, during the latter part of the war, and since, that I came to know Tommy well; and it was not geographical proximity ( for although he was still in London, I had moved to Liverpool) that I have to thank for this closer acquaintance , but our membership of the Classical Association and of its newly formed Education Subcommittee.
It was as Honorary Secretary of the Education Subcommittee and then as Joint Honorary Secretary of the Classical Association that he made one of the most important of his many contributions to the cause of Classical teaching.
By appointing the Education Subcommittee the Classical Association expressed the need for a more active concern for those of its members who taught in schools. For this concern to be effective in practice the subcommittee must foster cooperation and understanding between academic and pedagogic elements in the association, between those who taught in universities and those who taught in schools.
To be successful in this, the subcommittee had to command the respect of teachers in universities, and be regarded by teachers in school as being familiar with their problems. As secretary of the subcommittee and then of the Classical Association. Tommy fulfilled both these needs. He was recognised and admired in academic circles as a scholar of distinction, and those who taught in schools saw him as one of themselves. acquainted at first hand with their difficulties, and himself sharing them.
Beyond this work for the Classical Association, his scholarly knowledge of Greek and Latin and his natural delight in the creative manipulation of language led him into other fields of activity, such as his Latin prose session at the A.R.LT.'s Summer School and his contribution of crosswords, acrostics and verse compositions to 'Acta Diurna' and 'Greece and Rome'.
When in addition we remember his work in the promotion of the Classical Association's
Latin and Greek reading competitions for schools or as Honorary Secretary of the
committee which produced for the Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters the
book on 'The Teaching of Classics', or his collaboration with Francis Kinchin-
But for us who knew Tommy Melluish personally it is not enough to speak only of scholarly achievement and devotion to the interests of teachers and students. We remember his delightful sense of fun, his keen but genial wit, his shrewd commonsense, his complete lack of affectation and the kindly disposition that endeared him to all who were fortunate enough to be his friends.
Charles Craddock writes:
The death of Tommy Melluish has taken from us a fine scholar. a warmhearted companion and a witty friend. He grew up In London, where he was also to spend the greater part of his teaching life. Perhaps it was London,too,that endowed him with the sprightliness of wit which endeared him to his friends and disconcerted his adversaries. In the educational World he lived amidst a scene of rapid and sometimes, as he saw It, irrational change. In spite of the kaleidoscopic innovations of reorganization and the decline of classics in the curriculum he held fast to what he saw to be good and of enduring value. He was an unrelenting champion of the grammar schools. In the teaching of classics he was a no less fervent advocate of prose composition and the linguistic understanding and literary skills which it fosters. At meetings he spoke In defence of these causes with a passionate sincerity and opposed the insubstantial and often untried theories of administrators and educationists with a probing wit and fine scorn to their great discomfiture. His faith came from the experience of a fine teacher and he leaves behind him a large company of men who Were privileged to be his pupils.
Those of us who knew him at A.R.L.T. Summer Schools had the good fortune to
experience the exhilaration of his classes in Latin Prose Composition. These he
conducted with the sure touch of a man who knows his craft. There was something of
the Socratic midwife about his method, delivering from all our labours a Prose
of vigour and individuality, a healthy child, though sometimes not without the interesting
idiosyncracies that so mixed a parentage might be expected to engender. His kindness
encouraged the faint-
feeling of camaraderie that he created.
Tommy's gifts as a raconteur were well known and there was no more delightful public
speaker. Whenever he rose to make a vote of thanks, to pose a seemingly innocent
question to a speaker, or to read a paper drawn from his own wide-
As his friends and pupils we are proud to have known him. Mellitus erat.
J.E. Sharwood Smith writes in Didaskalos 1974
The news of Tommy Melluish’s death last August will have been received with sorrow
by all who knew him. His great qualities as a teacher and schoolmaster can be described
by his own pupils, but no one who encountered him lecturing or demonstrating at A.R.L.T.
Gatherings or elsewhere can have failed to sense talents quite out of the ordinary.
His devotion to Classics was lifelong, passionate and conservative. He was fervently
opposed to the demotion from its pre-
He was never voluntarily a friend to JACT. When JACT formed he was Joint Secretary of the Classical Association, President of the A.R.L.T. and a Vice President of the Orbilian Society, as well as the Classics representative for the IAAM on a number of boards, and he made it clear that he did not like the initiative in the field of Classics teaching passing to advocates of res novae. He was even less of a friend to Didaskalos, about which he once said in a Presidential address to the A.R.L.T. that the logical conclusion to the Editor’s policy of printing articles critical of the state of Classics teaching would be to enclose enclose a cyanide tablet with every copy. Despite these feelings he reluctantly agreed to serve on the founding committee of JACT, and when his term was over the Council took the opportunity of acknowledging his great services to Classics teaching by electing him an honorary member of JACT.
Boyish charm and good nature made him a much-
After having liked and admired him for several years it was no pleasure to find oneself from 1961 in the relationship of consistent opposition, but he was too kindly and genial for personal animosity. He will be sadly missed, and not only by those who retained his friendship to the end.
J.E. Sharwood Smith
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