Vale Professor Peter Manners Hill | 16.10.1945 – 19.6.2022

Professor Peter Manners Hill (OC 1963), who died on 19 June 2022, was a student in Ormond in the 1960s, graduating with a BA with First Class Honours in German and Russian in 1967. He then completed an MA also at Melbourne University in 1970. He moved next to the University of Hamburg, where he received a Ph.D in Slavonic Languages (Slawistik) in 1972, proceeding further at Hamburg to teach linguistics and Slavonic languages as an Assistant Professor; and in 1980 he was appointed to a full Professorship.


In 1983, Peter, with his wife Alexandra, decided to return to Australia. He applied successfully for a position in charge of a new section of Slavonic languages that had been set up in the School of Modern Languages at Macquarie University. A little earlier I had been appointed to a similar position in Polish at Macquarie. I was delighted to learn that Peter would be my colleague and co-head of the new section of the department. Though he had been at Ormond just after my time, we had met each other several times in Europe. Our first meeting, I recall, was in a house in Belgrade, where I was working as a translator, and Peter was visiting on one of his many travels from Hamburg to various parts of the Slavonic world.  We remained in touch.


Unfortunately, the amount of funding that Macquarie felt able to devote to the new Slavonic section was modest.  The library had few Slavonic resources, and in addition to buying many books for the library, we sought to collect useful books from the various ethnic Slavonic communities, who were very supportive. However, when it became apparent that our appointments might not be extended with any prospect of tenure, we both decided to go elsewhere. Peter returned to Hamburg for some time before retiring early in 2001.


Peter lived in the next decades in either Canberra or the NSW coast, while holding a Visiting Fellowship in the School of Literature, Languages and Linguistics at the Australian National University, where he made regular contributions to ANU courses, and continued to publish articles and book reviews, as well as undertaking numerous other demanding intellectual activities, including in the domain of theology, in which he became quite an expert.


Peter’s Father, Dr Henry Manners Hill (dec) (OC 1924) and brother, Dr Michael Manners Hill (OC 1955) were also students at Ormond College.


Peter was a gentle man and a gentleman. He will be missed by his family, his colleagues and his friends.


Written by Dr John Besemeres (OC 1958)

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