Most of the books I own were obtained at second-hand, and many of them have the bookplates or signatures of former owners inside. In idle moments, to amuse myself, I sometimes look up their names. My Oxford Classical Text edition of Thucydides is an old one, in two volumes with flexible tan covers. The name Cecil T. Derry is pencilled inside. Cecil T. Derry taught Greek to E.E. Cummings at the Cambridge Latin School. See Richard S. Kennedy, Dreams in the Mirror: A Biography of E.E. Cummings
, 2nd ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1994), p. 40:
In his Greek classroom, Cummings met a man who affected the course of his studies for years. Cecil T. Derry, newly come from taking his A.M. degree in classics at Harvard, became one of the most beloved teachers in the history of the Latin School. A jolly little Christmas elf of a man, scarcely taller than Estlin himself, he made him love the study of Greek. He encouraged classroom fun with the language, and responded enthusiastically to Estlin, who was by this time beginning to exhibit wit, and to the cartoons which the boy drew in the margins of his homework papers. He also encouraged him to write out some of his translations in verse and thus began a practice which Estlin continued over the next few years. Since he was a bachelor, his pupils became his children—or, more accurately, his younger brothers, for he was very much like a boy himself. Because of these features of his personality, he was able to infect his pupils with his own love of Greek culture. By the end of the next year, when he had taken the class through an undiluted Anabasis and portions of the Hellenica, he had inspired Estlin to major in Greek at Harvard.
Cummings himself wrote this tribute to Derry in I: Six Nonlectures
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1953), p. 30:
Concerning Mr. Derry, let me say only that he was (and for me will always remain) one of those blessing and blessed spirits who deserve the name of teacher; predicates who are utterly in love with their subject; and who, because they would gladly die for it, are living for it gladly. From him I learned (and am still learning) that gladness is next to godliness. He taught me Greek.
Here is Derry's obituary, from the Boston Globe
(July 30, 1970), p. 46 (with the title Cecil Derry, 87, Was Latin Teacher
Cecil T. Derry, 87, of 33 Lexington av., Cambridge, retired head of the Latin department at Cambridge High and Latin School died yesterday at his home.
Mr. Derry was born in Cambridge, graduated from Cambridge Latin in 1899, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 1903.
He received a master's degree from Harvard in 1905 and taught at several private schools before working at Cambridge Latin.
He became department chairman in 1923 and held the position until his retirement in 1954.
He wrote a short history of Cambridge Latin, read his own papers before the Classical Assn. of New England, and was former head of the Hopkins Classical Library at the high school.
Mr. Derry wrote the official centennial history of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in 1944.
He leaves a brother, C. Malcolm of Cambridge.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at Old Cambridge Baptist Church, Cambridge.
According to the Social Security Death Index, Derry was born on September 16, 1882.