News Center

Professor Emeritus Dr. A. Bland Crowder, 1941-2019

CONWAY, Ark. (March 1, 2019) – The Hendrix community is saddened by the February 22 death of Dr. Ashby Bland Crowder, who retired from the Hendrix College Department of English in 2009. 

Crowder arrived at Hendrix in 1974, after Dr. Charles Chappell ’64 and Crowder’s graduate school classmate Dr. Ken Story invited him to apply for a vacancy in their department. In 1982, he was named the inaugural M.E. and Ima Graves Peace Professor of English, American Literature, and the Humanities, a professorship he held until his retirement. 

“Bland combined the talents of a first-rate scholar with the talents of a first-rate teacher. He was one of the top scholars of Robert Browning on the globe, and he did it while teaching a full load. He inspired his contemporaries and the next generation of Hendrix faculty to see how teaching and scholarship complement and strengthen one another,” said Chappell. “I was able to work with him on a daily basis for more than 30 years, and his wit and erudition together were just unforgettable. The pleasure of his company was matchless.” 

A graduate of Manchester High School in Richmond, Va., Crowder worked part-time at the Richmond Times-Dispatch as a young man. He graduated from Randolph-Macon College in 1963, and received his M.A. in English from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, then his Ph.D. in English from Birkbeck College, University of London, where he wrote on the poetry of Robert Browning.

He served as one of the editors of the variorum edition of The Complete Works of Robert Browning, published by Ohio University Press. In addition to being a Browning scholar, he published at least a dozen books, and, according to Chappell, “several hundred critical articles, notes, and reviews—and he did all of it while chairing committees and advising students.” 

A Fulbright Scholar, Crowder received the South Central Modern Language Association’s 2004 Book Prize for his book, Wakeful Anguish: A Literary Biography of William Humphry. He continued to write for years after retirement from teaching, and his edition of the poetry of John Crowe Ransom is scheduled for publication in 2019.

Chappell said Crowder’s connections with Birkbeck College provided a valuable link in establishing the Hendrix-in-London program. Crowder collaborated with fellow Hendrix Professor of English Dr. Carol West to get that program off the ground.

Crowder loved his family, literature, the lively discussion of art and ideas, the beauty of language, and his home state of Virginia. He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Lynn O’Malley Crowder of Richmond, and a son, Ashby Bland Crowder III of Baltimore, Md. 

The funeral will be held March 16 at 2 p.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 6000 Grove Avenue, Richmond. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Environmental Defense Fund.  

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit