February 08, 2019

A celebration of the life of Edward W. “Ted” Tayler

Edward W. “Ted” Tayler, the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities Emeritus and special lecturer in English and comparative literature, passed away on April 23, 2018. He was 87.

A Shakespeare and Milton scholar, Tayler — who specialized in poetry and prose of the 16th and 17th centuries — began teaching at Columbia in 1960 after completing a B.A. from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in English from Stanford University.

“When you’re 21 years old you have a capacity to be inflamed by ideas. Edward Tayler’s Shakespeare class — his whole approach — made me want to be a playwright,” Kushner told Columbia Magazine in 2003. “I remember leaving a lecture on Richard II and Twelfth Night, and I thought I was going to faint, I was so overwhelmed by the experience — it made the world look different. Tayler had his famous lecture style, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth — this small guy grumbling his way through, in a great performing style.”

Tayler received the Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching, which is awarded by the Academic Awards Committee of Columbia College in recognition of a faculty member’s humanity, devotion to truth and inspiring leadership (1986); the University’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching (1996); and the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates (1985).

Upon winning the University’s Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1996, the following citation was delivered about Tayler: “An educational innovator, revered classroom teacher, and devoted mentor to both undergraduate and graduate students. Your students call you magical, learned and passionate, tough yet tender, witty, humane, wholly unique. Many report that you have changed their lives.”

Join students, colleagues, and friends of Lionel Trilling Professor Emeritus in the Humanities Ted Tayler (1931–2018) on Friday, March 15 at 3:00 p.m. in the Low Library Rotunda, as they share memories of his effect on their lives.


For questions, or if you would like to send your reminiscences about Ted, please contact Ria Coyne at rmc12@columbia.edu.

Columbia College mourns the loss of Edward W. “Ted” Tayler.

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