An academic career – Wilfrid Perrett

Wilfrid Perrett, son of Samuel Perrett and Sarah Bussell, was born in  Bridgwater, Somerset in 1873, the youngest of ten children.

In 1887 he passed the Class II examination of the College of Preceptors (present day College of Teachers) and went on to study at Dr Morgan’s School in Bridgwater.

He attended the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, where he achieved a BA in mental and moral science awarded by the University of London in 1893, having been awarded a £15 scholarship in 1891. Wilfrid had been raised in a Methodist family and this university was one of the first that did not stipulate membership of the Church of England in order to be awarded a degree.

He then worked for a time in Swanage as a tutor and married Hedwig Eleonora Matthiesen in Bridgwater in 1908.

At the time of the 1911 census he was living with Hedwig at 544 Erskine Hill, Hendon and working as a Reader in German at the University of London. They had a visitor at the time of the census, Ester Anne Elisabet Jonsson, a railway clerk from Sweden, who was probably a friend, acquaintance or relative of Hedwig.

Wilfrid went on to have an academic career at the University of London as an etymologist and critic of literature & music – his diverse work included ‘Peetickay: an essay towards the abolition of spelling’, ‘Some Questions of Musical Theory’ and ‘The Story of King Lear – From Geoffrey of Monmouth to Shakespeare’.

In addition to his critical work, Wilfrid also undertook translation of Einstein’s work from German and wrote ‘The Heritage of Greece in Music’ – his interest in the latter subject led to him building an enharmonic harmonium, the Olympion, with nineteen notes in each octave.

Wilfrid died on 1st October 1946, at which time he was living with Hedwig at 27 Rodney Road in Cheltenham. When Hedwig died, her cottage was left to Roger Hallett and Rosemary Hallett, grandchildren of Wilfrid’s sister Ellen Hallett (nee Perrett) – Hedwig stated in her Will that the intention was for the Hallett family to inherit. Wilfrid and Hedwig had no children of their own.

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