School 21

Phillip Harth

February 1, 1926 ~ April 28, 2020 (age 94)

Obituary

MIDDLETON-Phillip Harth died peacefully on April 28, 2020, at Attic Angel Community in Middleton, Wisconsin.  He was born on February 1, 1926, in Sioux City, Iowa, the son of John and Grace (Conlon) Harth. After graduating from Trinity College in 1946, he served in the U.S. Army from 1946-1948. Phil received a master’s degree in British literature from the University of Chicago in 1949. He met Sydney Joan Jacobs while both were doctoral candidates, and they were married on December 19, 1953. 

After spending the years 1954 to 1956 as a Fulbright scholar at University College, London, Phil was awarded a Ph.D in British literature by the University of Chicago in 1958. He taught at Northwestern University from 1956 to 1965.  In 1966, he was appointed Professor in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. 

Phil spent the year 1966-1967 as Senior Fellow in the Humanities Institute of Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He also taught as a visiting professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia in the spring semester of 1973, and was Senior Fellow at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library in Los Angeles during the spring semester of 1983. 

 

The University of Wisconsin appointed him Merritt Y. Hughes Professor of English and Permanent Fellow of its Institute for Research in the Humanities in 1977, a joint position from which he retired in 1996.  Phil was the author of three books of criticism: Swift and Anglican Rationalism; Contents of Dryden’s Thoughts, and Pen for a Party: Dryden’s Tory Propaganda, as well as many essays on late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century British literature. 

In the course of his professional career, Phil served as President of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies; was the recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and from the American Council of Learned Societies, and was elected an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa. On the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday, he was presented with a Festschrift by many of his professional friends and former students. 

Phil’s marriage to his wife Sydney lasted for fifty years, until her death on January 9, 2004. They shared many interests including travel, good food, and a passion for dogs. Phil was a kind, loving father and grandfather. He enjoyed a good laugh and had a wonderful sense of humor. Nothing made him happier than a comedy--whether it was a play, novel, poem, opera, or film. Phil loved music, ballet, art, and literature, and instilled this joy in all who knew him.

Phil is survived by his son David (Julie Genovese) of Madison and their children: John, Tony, Jasper, and Lizzie; his daughters, Maggie of Fairfax, California, and Becky (Garah Landes) of Ramsey, New Jersey, and their children: Jeremy and Gabriel. 

A celebration of Phil’s life will take place at a later date. The family would like to give special thanks to all the wonderful caregivers at Attic Angel who were also his friends. Thank you for all the love and compassion you showed our dad over the last seven years. 

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