A Londoner by birth, Brian saw wartime service in the Royal Artillery and the RAMC.
Brian was appointed assistant lecturer at Sheffield University in 1954. He taught language, French 19th century literature and was in charge of the supervision of the French lecteurs and lectrices. Brian was described in conversation by his predecessor at Royal Holloway as “the foremost of all the British specialists in 19th century French literature and thought”, and he was, it is fair to say, even better known in academic circles in Paris, where he met his wife, Josette, and where he carried out his research for the French state doctorate under the supervision of Pierre Moreau and Pierre-Georges Castex. His primary and secondary theses were published in 1970: Traditions orphiques et tendances mystiques dans le romantisme francais (1800-1855), Paris, Editions Klincksieck, 1971; seconde edition revue et augmentee, Geneve, Slatkine, 1982: and “La France litteraire” de Charles Malo, (1832-1839) et de Pierre-Joseph Challamel, repertoire, presentation et notes, Paris, Librairie Honore Champion, Editeur, 1974. As well as many articles and reviews mainly in French periodicals, he also published in collaboration with Jean Richer, William Charles Macready et les comediens anglais a Paris (1844-45), La Revue des Lettres Modernes, Nos. 74-75, Paris, Minard, 1962-63.
Brian retired in 1985, having spent his last year in post as the first and only Chairman of the two departments of French about to be merged in the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (later Royal Holloway, University of London) and in recognition of his services to the University, Brian was made Emeritus Professor. A volume of more than twenty essays by scholars from nine nations, and edited by his colleagues at Royal Holloway, appeared in his honour in 1989: Ideology and Religion in French Literature, Camberley, Porphyrogenitus.
Written by R D Cheetham and Mrs Josette Juden