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BU humanities professor knighted

A Boston University humanities professor was knighted last week for services in scholarship in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Christopher Ricks, former University of Oxford professor of poetry, will be going to Buckingham Palace sometime in the next six months for the official ceremony, Cabinet Office spokesman Alex Marklew said.

‘It’s a recognition of all the work he’s done in all the years,’ Marklew said. ‘It’s a formal way for the queen to recognize everything he’s contributed to British life.’

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List was published on June 13, the queen’s official birthday. The queen’s official birthday takes place on the first, second or third Saturday of June every year, even though the actual birthday of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II, is in April, according to the British Monarchy website.

Ricks, who has been part of the BU community for 23 years, is co-director of the Editorial Institute at BU and has taught courses analyzing the lyrics of Bob Dylan. Ricks also serves as Immediate Past President for the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, an organization he helped found.

Two Honours lists are formed each year, one for the Queen’s official birthday, and another for the New Year, with each having ‘just under’ 1,000 people honored at different levels, Marklew said. Honorees are placed on the list after a nomination process, in which either members of the public or government put forth people who work in relevant areas.

‘We don’t have a comment of where an individual’s nomination came from to protect the privacy of the process, but for someone of Professor Ricks’ status, it is more likely it came from a government department or office,’ Marklew said.

After experts in the area in which the person is nominated review the nomination, it is submitted to the prime minister for approval, Marklew said.

The British government has honored Ricks before, Ricks said in an email. Ricks received a letter from former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1982 ‘saying that she had it in mind to recommend to Her Majesty’ Ricks’ appointment as the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at Cambridge University, he said.

Ricks said the British government had informed him of his knighthood by letter in May.

Ricks’ knighthood is a ‘reflection’ not only of Ricks’ contributions to the literary field, but of BU’s faculty, BU spokesman Colin Riley said.

‘He’s a terrific guy, and we’re fortunate that he’s willing to work with our students,’ Riley said.

Ricks said in a statement that ‘services in scholarships’ for him means an appreciation of ‘all the services that have generously been done’ to him. Among the people and institutions Ricks thanks are former BU presidents John Silber and Jon Westling for bringing him to BU.

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