Among several kind appreciations Shelagh Rixon and I have received for our recently published A History of IATEFL, the following stands out - from Professor Arthur van Essen, whom ill-health prevented from becoming IATEFL's first 'non-native speaker' Chairman (i.e. President), back in 1987.
When I got home last night I found your book on the History of IATEFL.
I started reading it at once. Naturally I first read up on my own role in IATEFL during the 1980s. I think you have given a fair account of what happened at the time and how I felt it.
Your book reads like a novel! This is not the least compliment that one can pay a historian! Allow me to congratulate you and your co-author on this splendid achievement.
He's absolutely right that "reading like a novel" is a wonderful compliment, but we're also happy that he considers it 'fair', since Arthur van Essen's own role in the IATEFL story is an interesting and at times oppositional one.
I was triply pleased that Professor van Essen went on to offer the following donation to the Warwick ELT Archive:
As small token of my gratitude and appreciation I will send you in return an old, worn and taped-up copy of an authentic issue of a German journal on language and literature, which appeared in Germany during the war and which for that reason is unlikely to have ever reached the UK. The issue contains two contributions, one by my old friend Herman Bongers, who was Harold Palmer’s collaborator during the 1930s while Herman was working as a teacher of English in the Dutch East Indies. The other contribution is by Harold Palmer himself.
The issue is full of pencil marks by me in the margins of Herman’s article and also contains a pencil note in Dutch ‘terug naar Harold’ (=back to Harold) by Herman on the title-page.
We have now received this. It is quite a remarkable item, having been published right in the middle of wartime in Germany, with contributions from these two leading Dutch and British scholars (see my The Writings of Harold E. Palmerfor more on Palmer and his collaboration with Bongers late in life). On Bongers, van Essen writes:
Herman (who repatriated on the Independence of Indonesia) and I served together on the board of the Vereniging van Leraren in Levende Talen in the late 1970s. Herman was then in his early eighties. When he was about to move into a care home, he gave me some of his publications on language pedagogy and vocabulary selection, which I in turn donated to the library of the Institute of Applied Linguistics of the University of Groningen.
And he ends his message:
I believe this issue of the German journal is in good hands with you.
We will certainly take care of it, and will try to find out more about The English Literary and Educational Review for Continental Readers, at some point!