Provost Emeritus and Professor of English Edwin G. Wilson (‘43), known affectionately to all as “Mr. Wake Forest,” is a legendary name on the Wake Forest campus. He retired before he could teach your students, but for our alumni families, I’m not sure there is a greater name in the Wake Forest stratosphere than Dr. Wilson.

I happened across the excellent work of my colleague Marybeth Wallace (’86), who is Special Assistant to the President. One of her roles is to coordinate the Trustee Reader, which is akin to our Wake Parents and Families e-newsletter, but geared toward our Board of Trustees. In the recent issue, there was a wonderful segment called “Dr. Wilson’s Ideal Bookshelf.”  In the spirit of collegiality, both Marybeth and Dr. Wilson agreed to let us share that with the Daily Deacdom.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to read more – or read more of the classics – here you go! Being an English major (and a major nerd girl) I will say I was thrilled beyond measure to see “Dover Beach” as one of his top poems. It is probably within my top 3 of all time 🙂


Ed Wilson’s Ideal Bookshelf:

Just before he left for Mongolia for two-years service in the Peace Corps, Marcus Keely ’11, then the Wake Forest Fellow at START Gallery, asked Provost Emeritus Ed Wilson which books would comprise his “ideal bookshelf.” There was a catch: Marcus had the spines of the books sketched out and there was only room for 10 titles. Dr. Wilson chose the following volumes for his ideal bookshelf:

The Poems of William Butler Yeats

The Poems of William Wordsworth

The Letters of John Keats

The Plays of William Shakespeare

The Plays of Anton Chekov

The Four Gospels

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Mallory (or another collection of the stories of King Arthur)

Great Expectations and Bleak House by Charles Dickens

“12 of my favorite Poems” from Provost Emeritus and Professor of English Edwin G. Wilson (listed chronologically)

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 29: When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes

William Wordsworth, “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey”

William Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan”

John Keats, Ode to a Nightingale”

John Keats, The Eve of St. Agnes

William Blake, from MiltonAnd did those feet in ancient time

Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach”

A.E. Housman, To an Athlete Dying Young

William Butler Yeats, The Song of Wandering Aengus

William Butler Yeats, “Among School Children”

Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill”

(Dr. Wilson added that there were many other poems he’d like to include … perhaps in a later edition of Trustee Reader!)

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