Louis Crompton (1925-2009)

Jul 27th, 2009 | By | Category: Obituaries

Louis Crompton, noted scholar of 19-century British literature and a pioneer of gay studies, died July 11 in El Cerrito, Calif. Born in Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada, on April 5, 1925, he was the son of Clarence and Mabel Crompton. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a master’s degree in mathematics in 1948, and received his doctorate in English from the University of Chicago in 1954. After teaching at the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, he joined the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1955, retiring in 1989.

Crompton had an international reputation as a Shavian scholar. In 1966, he was awarded the Frank H. Woods Foundation Fellowship to conduct research on Bernard Shaw at the British Museum. His book on Shaw’s plays, “Shaw the Dramatist,” won the national Phi Beta Kappa Christian Gauss Award for Literary Criticism in 1969.

In 1970, Crompton’s pioneering course in gay studies, the second to be offered in the nation, became a hot-button issue in the Nebraska state elections. One legislator introduced a bill banning the teaching about homosexuality at any state college. The bill failed.

Crompton served as faculty adviser for the Gay Action Group, the first gay student organization at UNL. He advised its successor, the Gay/Lesbian Student Association, for two decades. He also helped establish UNL’s Homophobia Awareness Committee, which was started by faculty, staff, and students to improve the climate for gay and lesbian people on campus. He was a long-time member of UNL’s Committee on Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns, and in 2003 received the Chancellor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the GLBT Community.

In 1974, Crompton co-founded the Gay and Lesbian Caucus of the Modern Language Association, which attracted a large membership. In 1985, the University of California Press published his book “Byron and Greek Love,” which was widely and favorably reviewed on both sides of the Atlantic. UNL honored his scholarship a year later by conferring on him the Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. His last book, “Homosexuality and Civilization,” covered 2500 years of world history and was awarded the Bonnie Zimmerman and Vern L. Bullough prize of the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality award for 2003. His work in the early days of the gay movement has been included in a soon-to-be released documentary film, “Before Homosexuals,” directed by John Scagliotti.

Crompton is survived by his husband, Luis Diaz-Perdomo, El Cerrito, Calif.; his brother Gordon Crompton, sister-in-law Marion Crompton, and his nephew Robert Crompton of St. Catherines, Ontario; and by his niece Nancy Crompton, New Westminster, British Columbia.

Tax-deductible memorials may be made online at http://www.nufoundation.org/crompton/ or sent to the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall Suite 300, Lincoln, NE, 68508.

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