Literary endowment fund will create new ‘writer in residence’ and professorship

Jean Humphreys (1924-2019) embodied the spirit and the ethos of the University of Leicester.

A £450k literary endowment fund will bring new academic expertise to the University of Leicester’s English department later this year.

‘The Jean and Arthur Humphreys Fund’ was made possible by Jean’s generous legacy bequest. It will support the appointment of the first Jean Humphreys Professorship and Writer in Residence, to offer outstanding leadership in the field of diverse and inclusive- contemporary literary studies and creative writing. The Fund will also enable the appointment of the Humphreys Postdoctoral Fellow and the Humphreys PhD Scholar, as well as providing vital support for the Literary Leicester festival.


Jean Humphreys’ enduring legacy will help to ensure that the University continues to foster and support academic excellence, and produce many more talented graduates and Citizens of Change. We are very grateful to the Humphreys family for their generous support. This endowment fund will make a real difference to the School of Arts, allowing us to build a stronger, successful and more vibrant future for staff and students alike.

Catherine Morley, Head of the School of Arts

Jean Humphreys (1924-2019) embodied the spirit and the ethos of the University of Leicester in its early days when it was a small and intimate University College, and she brought its values to a much larger and diverse 21st century institution. Warm, friendly and with a sharp intellect, she was the wife of the first Professor of English when Arthur Humphreys was appointed in 1947. Still in her early twenties when she arrived in Leicester, she and Arthur established a wide network of friends across the University, the city and beyond.  She got to know the early generation of students and actively kept in touch with some of them up to the end of her life. She did the same with members of the English department and their families, welcoming newcomers long after Arthur retired in 1976.  

After Arthur’s death in 1988, Jean continued to be an active supporter and ambassador for the University. She used her extensive networks and contacts to strengthen the links between the academic community and the city through her role in the Leicester Lit and Phil, of which she became President in 2010.

In later years, Jean was an enthusiastic attender of inaugural lectures, university concerts, degree ceremonies and departmental events. She was a generous philanthropic supporter of the University and to the English department, and she remained a true University citizen, a perfect example of how a University should engage with its wider community to the benefit of both. The University awarded her an honorary degree in 2001 and later bestowed its highest honour, a Distinguished Honorary Fellowship.