Remembering Ed Eigner

August 29, 2020

Dickens Project Co-Founders Ed Eigner, Murray Baumgarten, and John O. Jordan.

With great sadness, I write to report the death of our dear colleague Ed Eigner on Monday, August 24. Ed was, with Murray Baumgarten and me, a founder in 1981 of the Dickens Project.  A professor for many years at UC Riverside and a regular participant at the Dickens Universe, he was the author of books on Robert Louis Stevenson, on Dickens (The Dickens Pantomime, 1989), and on 19th-century British and American literature (The Metaphysical Novel in England and America, 1978).

More than that, he was a good friend--cheerful, wide-ranging in his interests, ever curious, and deeply committed to broadening the scope of public education. It was Ed who proposed that we call the Project's summer conference "the Dickens Universe," and it was he who insisted from the start that it should include both graduate students and members of the general public. 

After his retirement from Riverside, Ed pursued his long-time interest in the theatre. He was active in the San Diego area both as a character actor in more than 20 different roles and as a playwright and director. He wrote and performed a one-man dramatic adaptation of passages from Bleak House, "The Rejected Witness," focusing on Jo, at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in 2017. When I last spoke to him earlier this summer during the pandemic, he told me he was taking online acting classes via Zoom with a teacher and a group of other experienced actors.

When COVID-19 arrived, Ed retreated to live with his daughter Nancy in the Santa Cruz area. Up until days before the sudden stroke that brought an end to his life, he was in rehearsals for a production of the David Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross. I take comfort in the fact that almost to the end he was doing something that he loved.

Ed's loss is deeply affecting to me, and will be likewise to his many friends, students, and colleagues in the Universe of Dickens.

Faithfully yours,