Remembering Ruth

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 07 September 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:631
  1. Bernard Dixon,
  2. Colin Douglas,
  3. James Owen Drife,
  4. George Dunea,
  5. Liam Farrell,
  6. Trisha Greenhalgh,
  7. Judith Hollis-Triantafillou,
  8. Ian Robertson,
  9. Tony Smith

    Ruth Holland, who died in the Watford train crash on 8 August, edited Soundings since its inception. Here, contributors to the page record their responses to her death. Her obituary is on p 620.

    Leaving well alone

    Ruth was the most sensitive and effective editor I have known. Unlike many others, she left alone that which could and should be left alone. But she was also vigilant in spotting infelicities, which she removed with such extraordinary skill that one forgot about their existence in the first place. There must be many other BMJ contributors whose delight in seeing their words on the printed page were greatly enhanced by this dedicated and selfless craftsmanship.—BERNARD DIXON, European contributing editor, Biotechnology

    Enlightened Fowlerist

    Train crash in Watford. Far away, a long way south of here. Then a day later a call from the BMJ: “Ruth died in the Watford train crash.” Watford seems a lot nearer home. By the weekend she has been named. Ruth, now a private face in a public place: lean, spiky, and for some reason in a little black dress, she shouldn't be there, least of all for that reason. Simplify her when she is dead. She wrote plays. She was an Attlee fan. More rarely, she understood both sides of the argument on the use of the subjunctive in subordinate clauses. And in her editing she was an enlightened Fowlerist—than which from scribes there is no higher compliment. I last heard from her a few days before she died: a quick practical phone call because my column had …

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