Barry Roth, indefatigable compiler of Jane Austen Studies and Professor of English at Ohio University, died on August 17, 2008 as a result of a brain tumor. Barry was among the group of members of the Jane Austen Society whom Joan Austen-Leigh and J. David Grey contacted in 1979 at the founding of a new organization, the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Anyone who searched for scholarly work on Austen before the days of computerized databases understands the inestimable value of Barry Roth’s work. From 1973, we could rely on his compendious and systematic bibliographies. That year, with Joel Weinsheimer he published An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1952-1972. On his own, Barry Roth published two further volumes: An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1973-1983 and An Annotated Bibliography of Jane Austen Studies, 1984-1994. In addition, and for many years, he prepared the annual list of Jane Austen Studies for Persuasions/Persuasions On-Line and, more recently, for the Jane Austen Society’s Report. He sent last year’s compilation to me a month early because, he said, he was about to undergo surgery. Scholars, students, and readers of criticism on Jane Austen, as well as those interested in the surprising range of popular writing about her, owe him an enormous debt.
Laurie Kaplan, Editor of Persuasions from 1998 through 2005, remarked on Barry Roth’s contribution to JASNA’s journals, “He provided a valuable service for many students and scholars, never complained about deadlines, was very helpful to me, and was such an easy person to work with. He will be missed by many people.” His colleague and former student Miriam Hart of Ohio University remembered him as “a wonderful professor, who generated a deep, sharp love of Austen in all his students.” Barry Roth’s passion for Jane Austen, his patience, and his attention to detail live on.