by James Clauss
W. Royal Stokes received his BA in History at the University of Washington in 1958 and an MA in Classics in 1960. While in Classics he studied with John McDiarmid, Tom Rosenmeyer, Paul Pascal, Robert Lenardon, Bill Grummel and Bill Read, who was at that time also the head of the UW Press. Dr. Stokes went on to receive his PhD at Yale in 1965 upon completion of his dissertation Studies in Homeric Formulas directed by Christopher Dawson and Adam Parry. He taught at the University of Washington, the Universities of Pittsburgh and Colorado, Tufts University, and Brock University before changing directions, becoming a jazz deejay, journalist, lecturer and author: five books on jazz and three novels. He was the Washington Post's jazz critic and editor of JazzTimes and is the author of numerous books, including The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 (Oxford University Press), Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson (Temple University Press), Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz (Oxford University Press), Growing Up With Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk About Their Lives and Careers (Oxford University Press), The Essential W. Royal Stokes Jazz, Blues and Beyond Reader (Hannah Books), and Backwards Over: A Trilogy of Novels (Hannah Books). He is currently at work on his tenth book, a memoir. The Washington Post recently featured an article on Dr. Stokes, who has “lived a jazz life as unpredictable as the music.”
Congratulations, Royal, on all of your remarkable achievements!
Update: We are sad to report that Royal Stokes passed away on May 1, 2021. Here is his obituary in the Washington Post.