News

Sir Eric Anderson, 1936 – 2020

Sir Eric Anderson, Visitor to Harris Manchester College from 2004 to 2018, died peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday April 22nd.

Sir Eric was profoundly committed to education, and this made him one of the foremost educators and one of the most outstanding headmasters of his generation. He was an undergraduate at the University of St Andrew’s (English, First Class) and a graduate student at Balliol College, Oxford, where he did an M.Litt in English Literature, working on Sir Walter Scott, and his edition of the Journals of Walter Scott was published by Oxford University Press in 1972. He taught first at Fettes College and Gordonstoun in Scotland, before going on to be Head Master of Abingdon School (1970 – 75), Shrewsbury School (1975 – 80) and Eton College (1980 – 94) where the porters still sing his praises, and where he returned to serve as Provost (2000 -2009). He was also Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford (1994 – 2000). He brought out the best in his pupils and students, who remember him with affection and admiration. He encouraged many young people, who were inspired by his example to go into the teaching profession, and he was a great supporter of those who taught with him, many of whom went on to become Head Teachers.

Sir Eric was a wonderfully kind, thoughtful and compassionate person, who will be missed by many.  His sound advice was invaluable to numerous people, and we were very fortunate  to enjoy his wise counsel, warm friendship and good company at Harris Manchester College for so many years.


The portrait of Sir Eric was commissioned by the college and painted by Michael Noakes in 2016. Having been shown at the annual exhibition of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters when it was completed, it now hangs just outside the SCR in college.