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Anthony (Tony) Dawson, Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Theatre (UBC), author of nine texts on Shakespeare and Marlowe, past president of The Shakespeare Association of America, beloved father, partner, friend, and scholar died peacefully on June 2, 2024. 

Tony was born in Toronto in 1941 to parents Paul Dawson and Nancy (Blanchard) Dawson, and spent his formative years in Montreal.

He was awarded a PhD in English Literature from Harvard University (1970). Following graduation, he moved to Vancouver, where he taught for almost forty years at the University of British Columbia.  

Tony had a profound appreciation for literature, theatre, music, and history. He was widely respected as a prolific scholar, and beloved as a professor for the way he brought Shakespeare to life. His ability to translate and evoke the layers, depth, and history of literary texts was noted by all who had the honour to learn from him. Despite his successes, there remained a deep humility about him. He never worked for accolades but rather for the love of literature and performance.  

Family and friendship were Tony’s top priority and brought him great joy and purpose. Tony deeply loved his partner, children, grandchildren, and large extended family.  He also had a cherished international community connected by a love of theatre and literature, formed over the last fifty years, including colleagues, past students, theatre lovers, and intrepid travellers.  

Tony was a superb athlete and loved to explore the globe with his partner of almost 50 years, Honey Halpern. Together they kayaked, bicycled, skied, and hiked in many countries, on multiple continents. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s nearly fifteen years ago, Tony bravely managed its symptoms and progression. Until the end, Tony never let his struggles get the better of him; he was deeply committed to finding ways to stay well and faced challenges and setbacks with humour and determination. His active life even in the face of illness was an inspiration to all who knew him.  

He is predeceased by his brother, Tom (2016). Survived by his partner Honey, sons Jeremy (Nevy) and Matthew (Jennifer), daughters Emma (Andrew) and Claire (Jesse), and grandchildren Isaiah, Esmé, Ezra, Ogden, Franklin, and Jacob, his brother, Peter (Anne), and sister-in-law, Judy. 

Special thanks to Shillah Mandaba for the loving care she gave him this past year.

A celebration of Tony’s life will be held on August 30th, 2024 at 1:00pm at VanDusen Botanical Garden.

In lieu of flowers, please make a charitable donation to Pacific Parkinson’s Research Institute or Early Music Vancouver.

“Good-night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
  -W.S.

7 Comments

  • Joyce Ozier
    Posted June 11, 2024 at 12:50 am

    Tony was not only brilliant, he was warm and cared about other people. I feel very fortunate to have been able to share time with him at the end of his life and admire his courage and ability to keep fighting his terrible disease. He will be dearly missed.

  • meredyth kezar
    Posted June 11, 2024 at 3:14 pm

    Absolutely perfect tribute! Thinking of you all at this time!

  • Shirley Choo
    Posted June 11, 2024 at 8:39 pm

    My deep condolences to you, Honey & the family. I remember Tony’s quick smile & twinkle in his eyes. He was a fount of knowledge in his soft spoken manner & such a devoted scholar. He was so proud of his family & loved all of you deeply. And he grew the best tomatoes!

  • Kyla Poirier
    Posted June 14, 2024 at 2:29 pm

    Señor Dawson will be remembered here in Melaque Jalisco. We always loved to have him visit and the staff truly appreciated his as a guest… better yet as a Friend. Hugs to Señor Dawson’s Family and Friends. It truly was a pleasure to have met such a wonderful person.

  • Lori
    Posted June 14, 2024 at 4:11 pm

    A lovely tribute to a very accomplished man.

    Sending you and your family warm wishes at this time, Honey –

  • Peter Leighton
    Posted June 14, 2024 at 7:54 pm

    Great memories of our son Matthew trundling next door for Tony’s home made Mac and Cheese and a game of chess! So many great conversations over the fence about: our kids; his kids; the Montreal Expos(!); our respective gardens; choral music; Shakespeare; the Canucks; the UBC outdoor pool … He was an amazing guy!

  • Jim Gaskell
    Posted June 15, 2024 at 1:21 am

    A wonderful, fitting tribute to a warm, accomplished, and courageous man. And yes, many happy memories will be cherished of activities together over the years.

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