Sir Herbert Grierson was Chalmers Professor of English Literature at the University of Aberdeen from 1894 to 1915.
He was a scholar of exceptional breadth and considerable influence. A classicist by training, he published on poetry in English spanning the sixteenth to the twentieth century.
His 1912 edition of the poems of John Donne played a key role in the revival of interest in the Metaphysical poets, and was also a landmark in modern textual editing. He was deeply concerned with the ways in which literature should be historicised, challenging traditional practices and advocating a much broader contextualisation, including, for example, bodies of scientific knowledge.
His work was striking for its comparative reach, making significant contributions to the study of early-modern Dutch poetry, as well as German, Italian and French literatures.
He was a translator of Latin, Dutch and French poetry into English; he wrote also on the relation of word and image. He was influential, too, in the field of Scottish literary studies, producing an important biography of Sir Walter Scott, and mentoring a young Hugh MacDiarmid.
He was a thoughtful commentator on developments in Humanities higher education.