Pat Pinsent obituary

by | Nov 7, 2023 | IBBY NEWS

Collage of Pat Pinsent and covers of her books.

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dr Pat Pinsent, Principal Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Roehampton (1967-1998), and founding member of the Catholic Women’s Network, died peacefully at her home on Friday 8th September 2023.

Pat enjoyed a long career as a lecturer in the English Department at Roehampton and continued her relationship with the university as a Senior Research Fellow in Children’s Literature at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature from 1999. Pat was instrumental in setting up our Children’s Literature MA programme in the early 1990s and established the hugely popular Distance Learning mode, which continues to attract postgraduate students from across the globe. Pat was determined and inspirational in using distance-learning techniques to reach as many people as possible—indeed, this commitment to inclusivity was central to her faith. Pat maintained a strong connection with Digby Stuart College and Roehampton and was a regular donor to hardship bursaries and scholarships.

Prior to her post at Roehampton, Pat completed a PGCE (1955) and MA (1965) at the University of London. She was a medievalist and mathematician, teaching Maths and English in secondary schools (1955-1967), and English at the Open University (1974-1984). Pat met her husband, Henry, whilst studying mathematics. One of her later publications, Life with Grandpa (2018), draws on Pat’s rewarding experience of reading to Henry after he was diagnosed with dementia—Henry predeceased Pat in 2016. Pat was a prominent and prolific scholar in the fields of children’s literature and theology, achieving her PhD by publication at the University of Surrey in 1999. Pat’s staunch feminism led to her advocacy for women’s rights in the Church. As president of the Catholic Women’s Network, she edited its quarterly, Network, from 1984. She published numerous articles and books, including Children’s Literature and the Politics of Equality (1997); Religion, Children’s Literature, and Modernity in Western Europe 1750-2000 (co-editor, 2008); and the Bloomsbury Readers’ Guide to Children’s Literature (2016)—the latter is deemed to be ‘just amazing’ by Professor Peter Hunt. Pat was a long-serving committee member of IBBY UK and editor of the IBBYLink journal.

Our thoughts are with Pat’s children, Frances and Mark, and her grandchildren at this time. We remember Pat for her pioneering work on children’s literature and theology; for her faith, compassion, and kindness; for her constant loyalty to Roehampton. Those who worked closely with Pat—students and colleagues alike—remember her irreverent sense of humour and a disdain for bureaucratic demands made by ‘them’. As Professor Kim Reynolds recalls, ‘when I taught in an adjacent room, everyone wanted to be in there because there were regular gales of laughter’. Pat is remembered fondly by us all—we owe Pat a great deal and her work will not be forgotten.


Lisa Sainsbury, Associate Professor, English Literature, University of Roehampton Laura Peters, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Academic Development and Sustainability, University of Roehampton