Richards, Marion K. (1925-2019)

Richards, Marion K. (1925-2019)

Date Updated



English & Humanities

Academic Rank


Year Retired from SJSU


Educational Background

Columbia University, 1961 Ph.D.

Columbia University, 1945 MA

Cornell University, 1944 BA

Teaching Experience

SJSU, spring 1991

San Jose State University, 1957-1988

Wayne (State) University, Detroit, 1947-1952

University of Denver, 1945-1947

Dwight School for Girls, 1952-1953

Benjamin Franklin High School, 1944-1945

Administrative and Professional Experience

Ran a toy store for 6 months in 1955.

Selected Publications

Ellen Glasgow's Development as a Novelist, The Hague: Mouton, 1971.

"The Examined Life of a Humanities Professor," College Teaching (fall 1988) XXXVI: 35‑39.

Black & Brown Bibliography, SJSC, 1969.

Personal Commentary

Born in Philadelphia, brought up on the New Jersey shore, I have always had an affinity for the ocean and felt the Great Lakes just wouldn't do. Since I was an only child whose father did his graduate work in surgery in Budapest, I was taken along and spent much of three years in Europe before I went to high school. Naturally, comparative culture and arts have been life‑long interests.

During the '30s, my father was head of Emergency Relief in our community. We never wanted for food or fuel because people continued to be ill and paid in kind with vegetables, coal or little tokens of hand‑painted china. In these years, many of my parents' European friends came as political or religious refugees and stayed with us for extended periods. This was the beginning of my social conscience.

The local public school found me a trial. I was either skipped or sent to the principal's office. But a year of convent school and 4 years of Quaker boarding school taught me some study skills and deepened my interest in language and literature.

Pearl Harbor cast a shadow on my freshman year at college and encouraged me to switch from French to intensive Russian, but the ability to translate tank manuals (no more meaningful in English) wasn't enough for the State Department. Because I couldn't qualify until I was 21, I went to graduate school for comparative literature and got a teaching credential in high school English. As the war was drawing to a close, my father returned from overseas. Mother was taken care of, and I was free to accept an instructorship at the University of Denver.

My next move was to Detroit for 5 years, then back to New York to finish my graduate work. My daughter was born in 1954 and my husband died in 1955. When she was 3, I came here on a job hunt from Sacramento to Pasadena. When San Jose State hired me for the fall of '57. I bought a tract house in Campbell and moved permanently to the West Coast.

In my years at SJSU, I taught European literature in translation, American literature and broke the sex barrier in Humanities. My administrative experience began as Foreign Student Advisor and included being Associate Dean with Bob Sasseen and co‑chairing English with John Gaim. One year I served as the lone woman on the State Faculty Council and had the opportunity to teach in the Tutorial Program in the late '60s. I had the benefits of an exchange year at the University of Lyons in France and the Bath Program in England‑‑a rich and varied experience that sometimes left me tired but seldom bored. My years at SJSU made me witness to the great changes of the public university systems in America.

Now that I have moved to the Sequoias, a retirement community in San Francisco, I am nearer to music, art and theater and public transportation. I'm making new friends but hope the old ones will visit.

Date Completed: 11/96

Adapted from: Biographies of Retired Faculty San Jose State University 1997: A Project of the Emeritus Faculty Association of San Jose State University. San Jose, CA: The University, 1997.


Richards, Marion K. (1925-2019)