Professor Gunnel Melchers passed away peacefully on 2 June, 2021, at the age of 86. Gunnel enrolled at Stockholms Högskola, which later became Stockholm University, and studied English, Scandinavian Languages, Phonetics, and Comparative Literature as an undergraduate. She received her doctoral degree from the Department of English at Stockholm University in 1972 for a thesis entitled Studies in Yorkshire Dialects, Based on Recordings of 13 Dialect Speakers in the West Riding. Gunnel returned to the department in 1975 for a permanent position, and was subsequently promoted to Docent (1980), Associate Professor (“biträdande professor”) (1997), and Full Professor (1999). During her academic career she published extensively on regional and social variation in English. While her early work focussed on northern England, after a fortuitous trip to Shetland in 1979 she turned her attention to Scotland’s Northern Isles and rose to become a leading expert on Shetland dialect.

At the Department of English Gunnel was enormously appreciated. She served as Head of Department and Director of Studies during the early decades, and was always prepared to help and support her colleagues. She was directly responsible for the creation of a vigorous scholarly environment, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. She arranged several symposia and attracted visiting scholars to the department, many of whom were seminal figures in their fields and most of whom also personal friends to Gunnel. Apart from her own standing in the field, Gunnel’s unparalleled global network of contacts was made possible by the fact that she was genuinely interested in and concerned about others.

In addition to being a prominent scholar in English language studies, Gunnel had a wide range of interests. Gunnel was a pioneer in Swedish knitting circles through the importation and sale of Shetland yarn to Sweden. Gunnel travelled extensively, often as part of her work on varieties of English. It was perhaps especially during travels that she revealed a further trait, namely her sense of humour. Typically, it combined a keen observation with some association, often to something back home, which brought about a warm-hearted, thought-provoking reflection.

We, Gunnel’s friends and colleagues at the Department of English, are grateful to have known her, and miss her immensely.

More on Gunnel's academic career and publications