Florence Howse Ridley (MA’51), renowned Chaucer scholar who endowed the Ridley Chair at VLS, dead at 99

Jan 27, 2021

Florence Howse Ridley (MA’51) of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, died Jan. 16, 2021. She was 99.

Dr. Ridley earned her undergraduate degree at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, a master’s in English at Vanderbilt and a Ph.D. in medieval English literature at Harvard University. She then joined the faculty at the University of California Los Angeles, where she became a world-renowned expert on Chaucer and taught for 34 years.

At UCLA, Dr. Ridley became the first woman chair of the academic senate and graduate counsel and was the first woman appointed as associate dean of graduate studies.She lectured worldwide and published scholarly works on The Canterbury Tales, medieval Scottish poetry and the works of Joseph Conrad, and founded UCLA’s Center for Medieval Studies and co-founded its academic journal, Comitatus. Students honored her with two awards for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

In 2018 Dr. Ridley endowed the Elisabeth H. and Granville S. Ridley Jr. Chair in Law, held by Christopher Serkin, in honor of her parents. Her father, Granville Ridley Jr., earned his undergraduate and law degrees at Vanderbilt in 1914 and 1916, respectively, and had a long, successful legal career in Nashville. Dr. Ridley also established scholarships at Vanderbilt University, Middle Tennessee State University, UCLA and MIddle Tennessee State University.

Her survivors include Elizabeth Stewart DeLargy ’77 (BA’72), John M. Green ’87, Cameron R. Stewart (BA’68), George H. Stewart (BE’72) and Mildred Stewart Wells (BS’75).