Elizabeth Howard, who has died aged 96, was one of those teachers who change lives. Not only did her English classes produce an above-average number of poets, actors and writers, they also engendered in many a lifelong love of theatre and literature.

She was born in Ely, Cambridgeshire, the only child of Netta and John Howard. Her father was a coal merchant who taught himself Latin and became a verger at Ely Cathedral. From Ely girls’ school, Elizabeth won a place to read English at Bedford College, London University, which was evacuated to Cambridge in 1939.

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