William Peddie Brown 1934-2017

An appreciation from Dr Bill Byth.

Dr William P. Brown died on 11 March 2017, aged 82. After graduating MA and PhD at Aberdeen University, he became a Lecturer in the Psychology Department of Bedford College, University of London in 1959, moving to a lectureship at Aberdeen University in 1964. In 1969 he took up a post in Queen’s University Belfast, being made Reader the following year, and continued to work there until his retirement in 1985. After returning to his home city of Aberdeen in 1987, for a short time he did some part-time lecturing at Aberdeen University. He was a Fellow of the BPS and of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

I remember Dr William P. Brown as a formidable intelligence and a highly respected academic and mentor initially in Aberdeen and then for nearly 30 years in QUB. The fact that he bullied me, in a kindly way, to complete my PhD after being appointed too early to an Assistant Lectureship is a lifetime debt that I hold, but the reason that I remember him with such affection is that beneath the gravitas there was a deep well of fun. Bill, as I shall call him now, never having felt senior enough to call him Billy, loved words and word games of every sort. He was an enthusiastic contributor, participant and official tester for the rather formidable group of crossword compilers and editors that came together in Queen’s Psychology, including Brian Greer editor of the Times crossword, Maggie Hale and Rex Mitchell, his partner in crime, to name but three. 

The interest I shared with Bill was in the Doric language. Some would claim this is but a dialect of Scots English, but we would say it is a language. Bill was deeply learned in its origins and literature and in particular loved the Bothy Ballad tradition of the North East of Scotland. Bill could and did produce a ballad or poem in the Doric to celebrate any event in the lives of his colleagues that he felt merited special celebration. I treasure a poem to celebrate the birth of our first child and a brilliantly revised address to the haggis to suit the occasion and the guests. Many, many of Bill’s friends and family were similarly blessed. That’s how we will remember him.

Dr Bill Byth
Banchory, Kincardineshire

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