Samuel Ashley Brown, college professor, writer, and scholar, died from natural causes on June 24, 2011, at Still Hopes Episcopal Retirement Community, Columbia, SC. Born in Louisville, Kentucky on December 19, 1923, to the late Samuel Ashley and Martha Mabel Brown, he was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Holburn Brown, and niece, Carol Brown Wildt.
He received his BA at the University of Louisville in 1945 and his MA at Vanderbilt University in 1946, where he later received his PhD in 1958. In between his graduate degrees he did graduate studies in historiography at Yale University, 1950-51, and taught as an Instructor in English at Washington and Lee, 1946-53, and the University of California, Santa Barbara, 1956-59. From 1959 he taught at the University of South Carolina, Columbia SC, where he was a Full Professor of English and Comparative Literature from 1972 until his retirement in 1996. He was also a two-time Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in 1964-65 and 1971-72.
Known to everyone as Ashley, he lectured widely in Brazil, England, and the U.S. on such modern writers as Mario de Andrade, Elizabeth Bishop, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Caroline Gordon, Ernest Hemingway, Vinicius de Moraes, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Crowe Ransom, Wallace Stevens, Allen Tate, and Peter Taylor. He also published extensively on many of these authors and others in leading literary journals, including Shenandoah: The Washington and Lee University Review, which he helped to found in 1950 while teaching at the college, The Southern Humanities Review, The Southern Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. He personally knew many of these same writers, especially Elizabeth Bishop and Flannery O’Connor, and carried on extensive correspondence with them.
He is survived by his brother Franklin R. Brown and sister-in-law Carolyn Brown, one niece and two nephews, and several great nieces and one great nephew. Also by his adopted son Celso Lemos de Oliveira, his wife Bernadette, and their children Laura and Marco.
As his longtime friend (since 1952) and then colleague John L. Kimmey commented recently after reading what he deservedly called Ashley’s “remarkable resumé”: “He always prided himself in being not a specialist but a generalist, sort of like his hero Montaigne.” He and Ashley collaborated on seven anthologies, and perhaps John’s last comments on Ashley are the ones that Ashley himself might want to be remembered by: “So much more to say about him. One of my favorites is his telling me once what he liked for lunch, a peanut butter sandwich and a Bloody Mary. An original.”
He will be buried in Louisville, Kentucky in the family plot.
Plans for a memorial will be announced at a later date.
-- Dr. George Geckle
-- Dr. George Geckle