Bernard John Noble

I have chosen to name this sculpture foundation after my father in commemoration of him.

I assume that most people think there is something special about their father; what was special about mine was a profound intelligence coupled with a sincere humility and modesty. He - and my mother - taught me to see and he tried to teach me to listen: unfortunately, I was a poor pupil and quite failed to share his first love of classical music. However, I did manage to trail in the wake of his and my mother's appreciation and wonder of the visual arts. I now fondly recall their circles around and around the Rodins, Moores and Hepworths of the Kroller-Muller Museum in Holland (where we lived) and the Calders, Miros and Giacommettis of the Maeght Foundation in Provence (where we would sometimes holiday). There was nothing superficial in my father's exploration of a work yet, while rigorous, it was always generous and full of joy.

Dad was born in Bromley, Kent on 5th February 1928. His father worked variously as a civil servant, an unpublished novelist and as a caterer, running a café in Battersea Park. Dad entered King's College School in Wimbledon in 1939 on a scholarship in what would now be considered an unconventional way: having 'tied' in the examination with another boy, they were given the same puzzle each to complete: whoever finished it first, would win the scholarship.

Suffering from asthma, Dad was excused sport and used his time to discover model aeroplanes, literature, music and languages. Hospitalised for his asthma, he found himself sharing a ward with a young German airman; he left King's in 1946 to read German and French at Trinity College, Oxford where he'd won an open scholarship. His contribution to the war effort was working as aeroplane mechanic at Desford Aerodrome in Leicestershire.

Dad was awarded a First in 1949 and embarked on a thesis on Rousseau's philosophical method, first at Oxford and then as Assistant Lecturer at Manchester University. In 1956 he finally abandoned the project in order "to seek a post of contemporary urgency, being tired of living in the past", as he wrote to one potential employer. He taught in a school in Switzerland briefly before finding employment as a Lecturer in English at Baghdad University. In 1959 he went to Beirut for a summer holiday where he worked on his translation of Max Scheler's 'On the Eternal in Man' and where he met and married my mother, Amy Jalkh. He then found a position as Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at the Beirut College for Women and, in 1961, became Translator-Reviser and later Deputy Head, Press and Publications at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Beirut. He found himself translating into English from French and, occasionally, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch and revising translations into English from Arabic.

In 1967, the family moved to Holland where Dad had been appointed First Secretary to the International Court of Justice in The Hague and where my brother, Marc, was born. Dad's work at the Court had some of the same multi-lingual, multi-cultural aspects as his work with UNWRA but now involved judges and staff from more than fifteen nations. It took on more of a legal hue, as Dad found himself ever more involved with the complexities of international law; he translated numerous books on the subject from French and Dutch into English. In 1987, he was elected Deputy Registrar to the Court, a position from which he retired in 1994. He was awarded an OBE for services to the International Court of Justice in 1995.

Dad spent the first few years of his retirement writing three broadly biographical books: 'The Chocolate Tram' tells the story of a boy growing up in South London before the war; 'Young Mortality' recounts the life of a boy attending King's in Wimbledon during the war; 'Talismen' is about a student at Oxford after the war. The trilogy is titled 'Echoes' and is available from or directly from the publishers at

Dad died on 5th October 2004 in The Hague, Holland.

Bruno Noble

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Registered charity : 1124352