Hawkins Remembered for Teaching English at Wesleyan for 20 Years

Sherman Hawkins, professor of English, emeritus, died on Dec. 3 at the age of 90.

Sherman received BA degrees from both Harvard University and the University of Oxford and his PhD from Princeton University. He served in the US military at the conclusion of the Korean War. Arriving at Wesleyan in 1971 after teaching at Princeton, Bryn Mawr, and University of Rochester, he taught English here for 20 years until he retired in 1991. For decades, his essay on college as a green world experience was given to every freshman entering Wesleyan.

“Sherman was an unforgettable colleague and presence at Wesleyan,” said Professor of English and Letters Kach Tölölyan. “As a teacher, he combined a dramatic style that captivated students and a sense of responsibility that made him scrupulous in every aspect of teaching. I have never forgotten our conversations concerning Shakespeare.”

Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Karl Scheibe recalled: “Sherman proved to be one of the most articulate, reasonable, and equable colleagues I had ever known. I had many occasions to enjoy his company and to see him exercise his formidable talents of exposition in his modest yet forceful way.”

In 2019, only months before his death, his children collaborated with Cambridge Scholars Publishing to publish his book on King Lear, Promised End.

“Few new books on Shakespeare—and indeed on literature in general—are likely to excite more pleasurable anticipation than this one by Sherman Hawkins,” notes Michael Goldman, professor emeritus of English at Princeton University.

Hawkins is survived by his wife Anne; children Seth, Katy, and Daniel; brothers Dick and Jim; sister Mary; and grandchildren Ani and Skye Peterson, and Ethan, Kai, and Noah Collings Hawkins. In lieu of gifts, the family asks that you consider a memorial contribution in Hawkins’s memory to the Gamut Theatre Group.