Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Scutt, Cecil Allison (1889–1961)

by Diane Langmore

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Cecil Allison Scutt (1889-1961), classical scholar, was born on 30 January 1889 at Wakefield, Yorkshire, England, son of James Duke Scutt, paper-hanger, and his wife Emma, née Allison. He was educated at Wakefield Grammar School and Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated (B.A., 1911; M.A., 1915), with first-class honours in the classical tripos and second-class in the medieval and modern languages tripos. With the aid of a Prendergast studentship (1912, 1914) and a Warr research scholarship in 1913, he engaged in excavation and philological research in Southern Italy and Greece and published 'The Tsakonian dialect' in the Annual of the British School at Athens (volumes 19-20, 1912-13, 1913-14).

During World War I, when the allied forces started operations in the Balkans, Scutt, a fluent speaker of modern Greek, commanded a mixed band of Macedonian irregulars for outpost and intelligence work. Returning to England he became a teacher at Repton School, Derbyshire, in 1918 and on 16 September at Mirfield, Yorkshire, married Lilian Buckley with Congregational forms.

Appointed to the chair of classical philology at the University of Melbourne in October 1919, Scutt did not maintain the prominent reputation of his department established by his brilliant predecessor T. G. Tucker. But his skill and dedication as a teacher were appreciated; he practised traditional methods of teaching, relying less on formal lectures than on individual tuition. He taught a final-year course in comparative philology and, as local research opportunities were limited, assisted his best graduates to obtain scholarships to Cambridge and Oxford.

Scutt, who had a ruddy, cheerful face and broad Yorkshire accent, was an active member of the academic community. He was dean of the faculty of arts in 1925-28 and 1938, and a member of the board of management of the university press, of the general library committee and the faculty of education. From 1920 to 1953 he served almost continuously as a member of the schools board. Although little involved in the wider community, he was patron of the Classical Association of Victoria in 1920-25.

A socialist in his youth, a staunch conservative in later life, raised as a Nonconformist but later agnostic, Scutt believed in 'the culture of ancient Athens and the best of English traditions, but little else'. Retiring in 1955, he returned to Cambridge in 1961 and died there on 26 March. His wife and two sons survived him. Apart from his academic reputation, contemporaries remembered him with affection for his integrity, geniality and common sense, for his 'instinct for the just cause' and 'for the light of interest in his eyes at the mere mention of cricket'.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Blainey, A Centenary History of the University of Melbourne (Melb, 1957)
  • Melbourne University Gazette, Feb-Mar 1955, May 1961
  • Classical Association of Victoria, Iris, 47, no 1, May 1961
  • private information.

Citation details

Diane Langmore, 'Scutt, Cecil Allison (1889–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/scutt-cecil-allison-8377/text14703, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

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