It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our friend and colleague Professor Margaret Whitford who died on18 July, aged 64, from ovarian cancer, after a long illness which she faced with great honesty and courage.
Margaret Whitford was a key founder member of the UK Society for Women in Philosophy. Her energy and vision was pivotal to maintaining the group as it grew. For many years she co-edited the Women in Philosophy Newsletter which later became the Women’s Philosophy Review. Her editorship lasted from Issue 2 (1990) until 1997 when she became Books Review Editor, a position that she held until 2001.
Margaret Whitford’s early work Merleau-Ponty’s Critique of Sartre’s Philosophy remains a standard text. However, she is best known for bringing to prominence in the English- speaking world the work of French philosopher Luce Irigaray. She edited The Irigaray Reader (1991) and, together with Carolyn Burke and Naomi Schor, she co-edited Engaging with Irigaray (1994). Her important monograph Luce Irigaray: Philosophy in the Feminine came out in 1991, and provided an entry point for readers into Irigaray’s work, whilst also rescuing that work from charges of essentialism and reductionism.
Margaret Whitford with Morwenna Griffiths co-edited the first book of papers to come out of UK feminist philosophy, Feminist Perspectives in Philosophy (1988). Later with Kathleen Lennon, she co-edited the first British collection on feminism epistemology, Knowing the Difference. Her work intertwined French Philosophy, feminism and psychoanalysis in a way that provided an opening for much of the work in feminist philosophy and feminist theory that followed. She always displayed a willingness to engage with, rather than close off from, different factions within academia. She qualified as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist at the Lincoln Clinic and Centre for Psychotherapy, London and, on retirement from her post as Professor of French at Queen Mary, University of London, took on a number of private patients as well as continuing with her translation work. She continued to be vigorously interested in life generally and ideas in particular until the very last days of her life.
Margaret was unstinting in her help and encouragement to younger colleagues. She was loyal and generous to her friends, entertaining them with rigorous discussions, her anarchic sense of humour, and sharing with them outings to art exhibitions, as well as her passion for and knowledge of contemporary art. One always left her company with fresh insights.
She will be very badly missed.
Alison Assiter, Christine Battersby, Morwenna Griffiths, Kathleen Lennon, Anne Seller