Professor Mike Irwin
School of English
(Thomas Arthur) Michael Irwin, MA, BLitt, was born in London and educated at William Ellis Grammar School, Camden, and Exeter College, Oxford. He taught English Literature at the Catholic University of Lublin (1958-9), at the University of Tokyo (1961-3), and the University of Łódź (1963-5), and English Literature and Creative Writing at Smith College (1965-7). He joined the University of Kent in 1967, and retired, as a Professor of English, in 2001, having served variously as Chairman of the English Board, Dean of the Humanities Faculty and Pro-Vice-Chancellor.
His main research interests were the work of Thomas Hardy, the literature of the eighteenth century, and the evolution of the novel from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. His published academic work includes Henry Fielding: the Tentative Realist, Picturing: Description and Illusion in the Nineteenth-Century Novel (a study of fictional technique in the work of Austen, Eliot, Gaskell, Dickens and others) and Reading Hardy’s Landscapes. He has also published three novels of his own Working Orders (1969), and Striker (1985) with Andre Deutsch, and The Skull and the Nightingale (2013) with Harper Collins.
He has a long-standing interest in the setting of words to music, and has translated some fifteen opera libretti – mostly for Kent Opera in the first instance – and various lieder and cabaret songs, as well as providing book and/or lyrics for several original stage productions.
He was Chairman of the Thomas Hardy Society from 2005-8, and remains a Vice-President. He is currently working on a fourth novel.back to top