George W. Sherburn, former chairman of the English Department and an authority on 18th century literature, died at his home in Bradenton, Fla., Wednesday. Sherburn, who was 78, retired from the University in 1952.
Though he was at Harvard for 14 years, the culmination of Sherburn's career came five years after his retirement, when he published a five-volume edition of Alexander Pope's correspondence. The edition, the research for which he completed in the Widener stacks, was universally acclaimed.
Several members of the English Department call Sherburn's final work the most "authoritative ever done on Pope." His previous book, The Early Career of Pope, had discredited many of the rumors associated with Pope's life and had completely reversed the trend of analysis on the eighteenth century poet.
While at the University, Sherburn became the "dean of the eighteenth century." His courses were taught within that period, and his chapter on the 18th century in the Literary History of England is regarded as the standard source on the fiction of that era.
Sherburn was actively interested in students. He refused to let his duties as chairman of the Department affect his role as an associate of Kirkland House. He frequently held luncheons for House members, and devoted much time to student problems within the department.
Sherburn came to the University in 1939, after having taught at Columbia for several years. He received his A.B. from Wesleyan, and his Ph.D. from Chicago in 1915. Before begining his teaching career, Sherburn served in France as an officer in World War I.