Thursday, 29 December 2011

Michael Anthony Eardley Dummett, 1925-2011

Michael Dummett has gone to his reward.

He would be the first to admit that his work on the game of Tarot was not the most important work he did in his life. But it certainly is the most important work ever done on the subject of the game of Tarot. He would also admit - in fact, he would insist - that his greatest work in this field was not merely his, but a collaboration with Miss Sylvia Mann (1924-1994). It is due, then, to both of them that the scientific study of Tarot - in the taxonomic, historical and methodological aspects - was given the deep and abiding foundation of The Game of Tarot (1980; see pp. xxii-xxiii for his description of Sylvia Mann's contributions to the work).

Regretfully, I never met Michael Dummett. Like with a few other of my heroes, I came too late to the scene. On account of his health, he was already restricting his travel by the time I joined the International Playing Card Society in 2003 and began attending the annual conferences. Like most would-be historians of playing cards, then, I only know him through his writings and those who knew him. Perhaps, however, I can take some small pride in the fact that the last piece of writing he published on the subject of Tarot, as far as I know, was a review of the little book of which I am a co-author, Explaining the Tarot (in The Playing Card, 39, no. 2 (Oct. - Dec. 2010), pp. 86-87).

Obituaries and appreciations:

From Adrian William Moore at The Guardian, 28 December 2011.

From The Telegraph, 28 December 2011.

From Alasdair Steven at, 30 December 2011.

From John Schwenkler at Commonweal, December 30 2011.

From John Haldane at, 1 January 2012.

Funeral to be held in Oxford, Tuesday, 17 January 2012.

"DUMMETT Professor Sir Michael Funeral details: Noon on Tuesday 17th January, Oxford Oratory, 25 Woodstock Road [St Aloysius Church], followed by tea at New College."

Requiescat in pace