The Constables

Faculty Profile

"I'm really looking forward to meeting the students in North House," Giles Constable '50 said when he became Master of the House this September. "I think informal contacts and activities are far more needed than organized events." Before becoming Master of North House, Mr. Constable worked as licenser, contractor and builder for his own new home. Although he enjoyed performing a number of unskilled jobs, he especially liked designing his book-lined study. During the summer, he and his wife arranged their antiques in their new house. For example, Mr. Constable disassembled, cleaned, reassembled and hung a mirror: "It includes over two thousand pieces, as I know to my bitter sorrow." But, as he pointed out in his quick, dry voice, "We don't really 'collect' antiques--we've been picking up anything we fall in love with for years."

The new house also contains some of Mrs. Constable's designs. She loves constructing paper animals; one sits next to a toy hedgehog on her husband's desk in the study. (Mrs. Constable has illustrated a children's book about hedgehogs, scheduled for publication this spring.)

The Constables' reading tastes seem as omnivorous as their appetite for antiques. But Mr. Constable can name one favorite character without hesitation: "I worship Sherlock Holmes and know him well." In fact, Mr. Constable belongs to "The Speckled Band," a Boston Sherlock Holmes club. Both he and his wife also enjoy light biographies and Ian Fleming mysteries "for their recuperative power." Pointing to another favorite book, Mrs. Constable admitted her primary attraction to it: "I like the pictures of camels."

Mr. Constable has lived in Cambridge, Mass., most of his life. Born in England, he retains a British accent which, somewhat to his annoyance, encourages the English to consider him a countryman and Americans to regard him as a foreigner. He hated history in secondary school but, when he came to Harvard, decided to concentrate in it. Awarded a Shaw travelling fellowship after graduation, Mr. Constable toured the Middle and Near East and fell in love wih Turkey "partially because it gave me such a sense of history." Since 1953, Mr. Constable has taught at Harvard; he currently serves as Head Tutor in the History Department.

A native American, Mrs. Constable grew up in Philadelphia and Princeton. Although interested in art ever since she was a child, she decided to concentrate in English when she came to Radcliffe Mrs. Constable met her husband at a bowling match between Whitman Hall and Kirkland House, played on the Radcliffe Quad. Do they still bowl? "No," Mr. Constable replied. "It served its purpose."