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Papers of Professor John Orr

Identifier: Coll-77

Scope and Contents

This fonds consists of the papers, lectures and correspondence of Professor John Orr, mainly relating to Romance linguistics. The correspondence includes 20 letters from the poet Jules Supervielle, dating from 1947-1955. The collection also includes 7 diplomas: Hon. Doct. University of Caen (1945); Officier de la Legion d'Honneur (1946); Encomienda de Alfonso x el Sabio (1953); Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur (1955); LL.D, St Andrews University (1955); Hon. Doct. Paris University (1956); Corr. Mem. Real Academia de Buenas letras, Barcelona (1957). Finally, there is also a file on the Caen-Edinburgh fellowship that John Orr set up after the war, to help the inhabitants of Caen by sending food, clothes, and supplies to the devastated city.


  • Creation: 1912-1965


Language of Materials

English, French

Conditions Governing Access

Mostly open. Please contact the repository in advance if you would like to consult this collection.

Biographical / Historical

John Orr was born in Launceston, Tasmania on 4 June 1885. He was educated at the High School, Launceston, and at the University of Tasmania. In 1905 he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, Balliol College, and graduated in 1910 with Honours in Classical Moderations and in Law. Orr then went on to study Romance Languages and Literature at the Sorbonne and at Florence and took the Oxford B.Litt. in 1913. Between 1913 and 1915 he was a Lecturer in French at Manchester University and from 1915 to 1918 he was a Lecturer in French at East London College. In addition, during the First World War he served in the Naval and Military Intelligence Departments in France. At the end of the war he became Professor of French at the Victoria University of Manchester and then in 1933 became Professor of French at Edinburgh University. Developments within the Department led to the establishment in 1951 of a second Chair at Edinburgh, and to a division of the field of study. Professor Orr's Chair was given the new title of French Language and Romance Linguistics and the other was entitled French Literature. From 1951, Orr was also Dean of the Faculty of Arts until his retirement in 1954. Earlier, in 1945, his work as the Chairman of the Edinburgh-Caen Fellowship was recognised by the University of Caen with the award of Docteur Honoris Causa. Between 1963 and 1966 he was President of the International Federation of Modern languages and Literature. Among his publications were, An introduction to Romance classics translated and revised from the Rumanian version by I. Iordan (1937), Le Lai de l'Ombre (1948), Contes et poemes by J. Supervielle (1950), Words and sounds in English and French (1953), Old French and modern English idiom (1961). Professor John Orr died on 10 August 1966.


8 boxes

Physical Location

Gen. 868-872, and Gen.1842-1844.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in 1967 by Mrs Orr. Accession no E67/2.

Related Materials

The album of Photographs of War-Devastated Caen (Coll-164) was donated to the University by John Orr.

Processing Information

The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) Who's who 1962 (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1962). (2) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.17. 1953-1955, pp.206-207 (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd). (3) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.5. 1932-1933, p.232 (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd). (4) University of Edinburgh Journal, Vol.23. 1967-1968, p.82 (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd).

Top-level description created by Aline Brodin in August 2018, drawing upon existing resources.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379