Obituary: Charles ‘Mike’ Doyle

Aldington biographer Charles ‘Mike’ Doyle sadly died on 28 December 2016.  These obituaries at and in the Globe and Mail give a powerful sense of the remarkable life he lived.

Doyle’s contribution to Aldington Studies was valuable, and his biography paved the way for later work in the field.  Recent biographer Vivien Whelpton had recently been corresponding with Doyle, and offers the following reminiscence:

I am sad that – as in the case of Norman Gates – I never had a chance to meet Mike Doyle. In fact I only established contact with him five weeks before his death, when I wrote to thank him for giving the University of Victoria permission to give me access to his archive there. He responded promptly. Despite his eighty-eight years, he clearly still had an active intellectual life, was reading lots of poetry, putting together an anthology and had become excited by the work of a Quebec poet-songwriter, Giles Vigneault. He told me: ‘Just ask for whatever you want and I’ll see what I can do.’ His files, however, were ‘upstairs’ and he was now confined to the ground floor of his home.

In response to some of my own speculations, he told me that the woman in Aldington’s life who had most intrigued him was Brigit Patmore and that he would have like to find out more about her. (So would I!) However, he had moved on, after the biography, to studying Modernist connections between poetry and painting. He was still writing, he told me, though no longer poetry. With reference to the latter, he offered to send me a copy of his ‘Echoes from Pluto’, published in 2013. That offer was made on 5 December; how I wish now, that I had accepted it immediately. As it was, it was some months before I had put together a list of the questions I wanted to ask him; when that request received no response, I contacted the university, who told me the sad news – that he had died only three weeks after his last email to me.

Mike’s warmth, humour, modesty and kindliness were all evident from our brief correspondence. It was only when I read the obituary that the University of Victoria sent me that I discovered quite what an extraordinary man he was. I am looking forward to reading the copy of ‘Echoes from Pluto’ which I have now ordered.


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