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Professor Steve May – Bath Spa University

Remembering Steve May

Wednesday, 12 July, 2023

We are sorry to record the passing of Professor Steve May, former Dean of the School of Humanities and Creative Industries at Bath Spa University. Steve was a Professor in the Creative Writing Department at Bath Spa for many years, after originally joining the University as an hourly-paid lecturer, and previously working for 20 years as a freelance author and musician. 

Educated at Cambridge and Bristol Universities, Steve was a brilliant and talented script writer, a gifted scholar, radio dramatist, a superb musician, and a wonderfully witty man. He was the Chair of the National Association of Writers in Education and also represented Bath Spa University on REF2021 as a member of the English Language and Literature panel. Steve served for several years as Dean of the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries.

Steve also wrote under a pseudonym and satirised his working life at 'Hayborough University' in his radio drama series 'Higher'. The whole series is available on Audible.  

Bambo Soyinka, Professor of Story at Bath Spa University remembers Steve:

“I met Steve ten years ago when he hired me to take on the role of Head of Creative Writing. Steve’s immense popularity and respect within the department were evident from the start. As the Dean of School and the former Head of Creative Writing, Steve was a constant source of quiet support, offering wise words and witty insights from behind the scenes. 

Later, I learned that Steve’s influence extended well beyond the walls of Bath Spa University. Steve was a leading figure in the national development of creative writing as a degree-level subject and was highly regarded by the National Association for Writers in Education (NAWE). His humour, writing talent, and dedication to advancing Creative Writing were recently remembered by members of the National Creative Writing Benchmark Committee, which he formerly chaired.

Mostly, I remember Steve for his modesty. He was a luminary within his field, a legend, and a gentle giant. But in spite of his impact, Steve rarely spoke about himself, or his work. I imagine that he would be embarrassed by all of the tributes and testimonies to him today.”

Professor John Strachan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research & Enterprise:

“Steve May was a remarkable man, extraordinarily talented in all that he did, as a writer, musician, scholar and leader. He was a gifted writer in several capacities: novelist, children's writer and in particular as a radio dramatist, in which capacity he was one of the UK's leading proponents. I had the great pleasure in working with Steve for over a decade, initially as his Associate Dean in the School of Humanities and Cultural Industries, which he led so well, and, after his retirement, in his capacity as a member of the English Language and Literature REF 2021 Panel and chair of The National Creative Writing Benchmark Committee. Steve was one of the funniest, cleverest and wisest men I ever met.”

Steve passed away in June 2023. Steve’s absence will be deeply felt, his humility forever cherished. Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends, and all who were touched by his extraordinary presence. He will be sadly missed by everyone in the Bath Spa community.

HR are available to offer advice and support to any staff who are affected by this sad news and support is available for staff through Lifeworks. You might also find this website helpful.

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