By John Chambless
Richard Beards, whose Bookplace shop in Oxford was a hub of the southern Chester County arts scene, died on Dec. 20 at Christiana Hospital in Wilmington, Del.
He had been hospitalized for flu-like symptoms in recent weeks. According to his wife, Ginny, he had undiagnosed stage four cancer that was discovered during his hospitalization.
Bookplace was more than a used book store. The exhibition space inside the store was a rare place where upcoming and well-known artists could exhibit their works. Beards enjoyed talking with each visitor, and he championed regional artists and authors. He was one of the main organizers of last summer's sculpture trail through Oxford, and he served on the boards of several area arts organizations. He regularly scheduled book signings at his shop and was able to discuss regional history with just about anyone.
When he wasn't selling books and talking about art at Bookplace on the weekends, he was a professor in the English department at Temple University in Philadelphia. He received his B.A. from Dartmouth College in 1958 and his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Washington in 1965. He had been involved at Temple University since 1964, working as an associate professor of English beginning in 1971, and serving as the director of the Master of Liberal Arts program from 1983 to 2000. He was an expert in Victorial literature and children's literature, and had been working on a book about the diary of Lavinia Townsend, a Quaker abolitionist.
Memorial plans were incomplete at press time.