Gift from the Silver estate supports students of French Renaissance

New fellowship fund, library collection, established

A bequest from the estate of Isidore and Edith Silver will establish the Isidore and Edith Silver Washington University Fellowship Fund, it was announced by Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton.

The Silvers bequeathed more than $1 million in support of fellowships for doctoral students of French Renaissance in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures in Arts & Sciences, the department where Silver taught from 1957 until his retirement in 1975.

“Professor Isidore Silver and his wife, Edith, were great supporters of the University during their time with us. Their gift of the fellowship fund continues to bring us rich benefits and enhances our ability to provide assistance to those who will follow in Professor Silver’s footsteps. Their wonderful generosity provides a great legacy for the department and for future scholars,” Wrighton said.

In addition to the fellowship, the fund will also support the purchase of books and materials by the Washington University Libraries concerning the French Renaissance of the 16th century and related areas of research. Materials purchased by the fund will contain bookplates identifying them as gifts from the Silvers’ in honor of their parents.

“In his lifetime, Professor Silver advanced the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures by being a mentor, by being a great teacher, and by contributing to the world’s knowledge of the French Renaissance. Thanks to the fellowship fund, he will continue to add significantly to the scholarship in the department and to the future work of his colleagues and students,” said Edward S. Macias, executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences.

Candidates for the Silver fellowships will be chosen by a committee of faculty within the department and directed by Colette Winn, professor of French.

Silver received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1938 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1948. By the time he joined Washington University, he was considered the world’s leading authority on the French Renaissance poet Pierre de Ronsard. In 1968, he was named the Rosa May Distinguished University Professor in the Humanities,

Among Silver’s published works are The Pindaric Odes of Ronsard, The Intellectual Evolution of Ronsard, Ronsard and the Hellenic Renaissance in France, Three Ronsard Studies and numerous articles in scholarly journals. One of his most distinguished contributions to Ronsard scholarship was a monumental critical edition of the poet’s oeuvre.

To commemorate Silver’s work, his colleagues from around the world contributed to a volume entitled Ronsard, figure de la variete. It was edited by Winn and published in 2002.

In recognition for his contributions to French culture, Silver has been honored by the French government. In 1962 he was decorated with the insignia of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Academique, advancing in this order to the rank of Officer in 1970. Five years later he became the first American to be honored with the award of insignia of Commandeur and in 1985 he was designated a Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honor by then president Francois Mitterand.

Upon his death in 1999, his widow endowed an annual Isidore Silver Memorial Lecture that brings to campus each year a scholar in French renaissance studies. Edith Silver died in late 2001.