I would like to give a fairly brief report to the Ronald Knox Society about this wonderful colloquium recently held in London. The colloquium was sponsored by Heythrop College, University of London, in association with Inspire (Centre of Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation) and the support of the Institute of English Studies in the University of London and of the Tablet Trust. The Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies will be publishing the proceedings (Ronnie Knox: A Man for All Seasons, eds Francesca Bugliani Knox and Francesco Montarese).
The organizer and guiding spirit of this splendid gathering was Dr Francesca Bugliani Knox. She is married to Dillwyn Knox, the grandson of Ronald Knox’s brother Dillwyn; he was present, and I am happy to report that, like his grandfather, he goes by “Dilly”. Francesca explained to us the reasons for the title to the colloquium. As to “Ronnie”, this was the name by which Knox was known not only by family and friends, but even by mere acquaintances. He himself said that strangers called him “Ronnie”, and, if anything, it was the surname that was dispensable. This familiar form of address captures something of the spirit of a man who wore his remarkable intellectual and spiritual gifts lightly. The “man for all seasons” conjures up, of course, the figure of Thomas More, but the phrase in its original context also captures Knox’s personality. Robert Whittington, a schoolteacher of More's time, said that More was “a man of angel's wit and singular learning; I know not his fellow. For where is the man of that gentleness, lowliness, and affability? And as time requireth, a man of marvellous mirth and pastimes: and sometimes of sad gravity: a man for all seasons.”