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Milton, J. (2017). Obituary for Elizabeth Jane Bott Spillius. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(3):927-934.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(3):927-934


Obituary for Elizabeth Jane Bott Spillius

Jane Milton

Dr Elizabeth Bott Spillius, a Distinguished Member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, died on 4 July 2016 at the age of 92. She was unusual in having previously also become distinguished in another field, that of social anthropology. Here, as Elizabeth Bott she made important studies both about kinship patterns in East London and about kinship and ceremony in the Kingdom of Tonga.

We have lost a staunch colleague and friend of great generosity, wit and scholarship. Her lucid intelligence, non-judgmental warmth and open-minded curiosity suited her excellently for work in both of her disciplines. Mourning her passing, we can however be grateful for the vivid and accessible writing that she has left behind. We can also remember the incalculable influence she has had on her many patients, students and colleagues.

Personal biography

Elizabeth Spillius was born Elizabeth Jane Bott on 3 March 1924, in Toronto, Canada, the youngest of three daughters, to Edward Bott and Helen née McMurchie, who were married in 1917. Her father, from a poor family, worked his way through university and became the founding head of the University of Toronto's psychology department in 1926 and then the founding president of the Canadian Psychological Association in 1940. Her mother Helen McMurchie Bott received both her BA and MA in psychology from the University of Toronto. She was a leader in founding the Institute for Child Study within the university and was the head of parent education there until 1938. She co-authored two books with William Blatz which focused on studies of young children.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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