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Desmond George Neill (1924-2012) served as the second librarian of Massey College, University of Toronto, from October 1975 to 1990. He was a senior fellow of the college. A leading scholar in the field of bibliography and rare books, he also taught courses in the history of books and printing at the Faculty of Library Science (now Faculty of Information) and was a lecturer in the Department of English.
Neill was born in Oxford, England. He completed a D.Litt. at Balliol College, Oxford. In 1953, he married Sheila M. Pereira in Chelsea, Middlesex, and they had four children.
From 1969 to 1975, Neill was a senior research fellow at Balliol College, Oxford University, and worked as a librarian at the Bodleian Library. In 1975, at the invitation of the Master of Massey College, Robertson Davies, Neill came to Toronto to take up the post of librarian at Massey. He made important additions to the reference and Canadian literature collections, and to the bibliography holdings. He was a member of the Bibliographical Society of Canada and served on its executive, including a term as president.
Neill was a member of the Friends of the Library at Trinity College. In his retirement, he volunteered at Trinity’s annual book sale; starting in 1996, he focused his efforts on donations, looking for rare books for the sale and for the John W. Graham Library. In 2004, he received the University of Toronto’s Arbor Award for distinguished volunteer service.
Neill moved back to Oxford, where he died on 13 June 2012 at the age of 87. His funeral was held on 26 June at the Chapel of Balliol College.
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