Terry Jones, the beloved Monty Python star, died on Tuesday evening, four years after being diagnosed with dementia.
Jones was a valued student of Oxford University during the 1960s when he read English Literature at St. Edmund’s Hall. He went on to become an Honorary Fellow of the College in 1999.
During his time at Oxford he wrote sketches for the Oxford Revue. It was there that he met his life-long friend Michael Palin, who later worked with him on Monty Python. Sir Michael described Jones as “one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation”, adding that:
“Terry was one of my closest, most valued friends. He was kind, generous, supportive and passionate about living life to the full.
“He was far more than one of the funniest writer-performers of his generation, he was the complete Renaissance comedian – writer, director, presenter, historian, brilliant children’s author, and the warmest, most wonderful company you could wish to have.”
David Aukin, who was a student with Jones at Oxford, said:
“Terry enriched all of our lives and I was privileged to spend three glorious years studying with him at Oxford in the early sixties. Terry had the extraordinary ability to embrace all that life offered him. Of course Terry is famous for his roles in revues, but he also took on major roles in a number of drama productions. Remarkably he didn’t allow his acting and writing to detract from his studies which he took seriously, demonstrating genuine academic talent, later manifest in his many published books. Like many who knew him, I remain in awe of what Terry managed to pack-in to an extraordinary life. He will be missed.”
Born in Cowley Bay, Wales, Jones attended The Royal Grammar School in Guilford, where he was school captain from 1960-61. After his graduation from Oxford, Jones appeared in Twice a Fortnight with Palin, as well as The Complete and Utter History of Britain and Do Not Adjust Your Set. The latter would become their template for work to come with Monty Python.
Jones wrote and starred in Monty Python’s Flying Circus TV show and the comedy collective’s films, as a range of much-loved characters. He directed Monty Python and The Holy Grail with Terry Gilliam, which was released in 1975. He also directed 1979’s Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life in 1983.
He was also known for his writing; he has written various comedies, published a number of poems in the Poetry Review, columns for newspapers including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Observer, and wrote the screenplay for the 1986 film The Labyrinth.
St Edmund’s Hall has said it is “deeply saddened” to hear of Jones’ passing and that he will be “sorely missed by the Teddy Hall community”.
In 2012 Jones donated over 700 books to the college library, and was the keynote speaker at the Hall’s Research Expo event in 2015, giving a lecture about his research on the Ellesmere Manuscript.