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Newnham College's Prof Mary Beard says she is '100% delighted' to be made a dame in Queen's Birthday Honours

By Paul Brackley

Prof Mary Beard, of Newnham College, University of Cambridge, has been made a dame in the Queens Birthday Honours
Prof Mary Beard, of Newnham College, University of Cambridge, has been made a dame in the Queens Birthday Honours

University of Cambridge academic honoured for her contribution to the study of classical civilisation

University of Cambridge classicist Mary Beard has told of her delight at being made a dame in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The honour recognises the Newnham College professor’s contribution to the study of classical civilisation.

She said: “I am absolutely 100 per cent delighted – especially to realise that classical civilisation is still taken seriously enough to be recognised in this way. That said, I expect a good few jokes about pantomime dames...!’

Dame Mary is also renowned for her well-informed and forceful voice for feminism. Her latest work, Women and Power, investigates the roots of the silencing of women in the classical period, taking it forward into the present day.

Dame Carol Black, principal of Newnham College, said: “This is well-deserved recognition of the outstanding contribution that Mary has made to the study of classics and the promotion of public understanding of classical civilisation, a further accolade in Newnham’s highly-distinguished tradition in classics.”

Her influence has also, of course, been felt strongly by undergraduates.

Newnham classics student Charlie Pemberton said: “It was Mary who encouraged me to apply to Cambridge and indeed Newnham in the first place: we had emailed a bit when I was in sixth form, before she met me at a Newnham classics open day.

“By that stage, I really felt coming here was really meant to be. She always made sure to host end-of-term parties where we’d all get together as Newnham classicists. They have often been a highlight of the term!

“There is something so special about Newnham classics, and I think Mary has come to symbolise that.

“As a supervisor, she is incredibly fair: she gives praise when it is due, but isn’t afraid to tell you when you’ve been a numpty (to put it lightly...). Her warning never to take a source at face value – to do some digging to discover what it’s really getting at – proved invaluable in my recent exam. She didn’t just teach us the material, but how to handle or think with the material – and (as anyone who’s seen her on the telly can attest) she makes the material so accessible and memorable.”

Cambridge was well represented in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018, with the master of St John’s College, Prof Christopher Dobson, being knighted.


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