The University Record, February 11, 1998


Edwin A. Engel

Edwin A. Engel, professor emeritus of English, passed away Jan. 23 at the Rosa Coplon Nursing Home in Buffalo, N.Y., from the effects of a stroke suffered in May. He was 90.

Engel had been a member of the Department of English for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1976. He was born in Ottowa, Ill., in 1907. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1930 and began his teaching career in Cleveland high schools. While living in Cleveland, he met and married Dorothy Simon in 1931.

He received a master's degree in theater in 1936 from Case Western Reserve University and came to the U-M to earn his Ph.D. and a subsequent faculty position.

During his years on the faculty, he taught courses in English literature, Shakespeare, modern drama and Great Books.

While an undergraduate he wrote his first play, which won a college contest and was performed at the University of Chicago. Drama remained a lifelong interest. He became the foremost authority on the works of Eugene O'Neill in 1952 when he published the first full-length study of that dramatist, titled The Haunted Heroes of Eugene O'Neill (Harvard University Press). This study appeared after a period in which O'Neill's work had received little attention, and it contributed to a resurgence of interest in the writer considered by many to be America's leading playwright. There followed numerous articles in American and European scholarly journals. In 1956, he was awarded a Fulbright lectureship at the University of Copenhagen.

After his retirement, Engel and his wife spent several years traveling in Europe and Asia. In 1987, they settled in La Jolla, Calif. As a connoisseur of fine food, he enjoyed visiting outstanding restaurants throughout the world and was himself appreciated by family and friends for his skill as a gourmet cook.

Throughout his career, he succeeded in combining his devotion to his family with his scholarly pursuits to such a degree that his children and grandchildren shared with him a love of music, art, literature, travel and the study of other cultures.

Engel is survived by his wife, Dorothy Simon Engel; sister, Elsie Katz of New York City; daughter, Judith (Stanley) Jacobs of Ann Arbor, and son, David (Jaruwan) of Amherst, N.Y.; and grandchildren, Jennifer and Natalie Jacobs of Ann Arbor, and Anya and Mark Engel of Amherst, N.Y.

Submitted by the family