Mary Beard (classicist)

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Professor
Mary Beard
OBE
Mary Beard filming in Rome.jpg
Professor Beard being filmed in Rome.
BornWinifred Mary Beard
(1955-01-01) 1 January 1955 (age 59)
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
OccupationClassical scholar
AwardsWolfson History Prize (2008) for Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town;[1]
Order of the British Empire (Civil) Ribbon.png OBE (2013)
 
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For the American historian and women's rights campaigner, see Mary Ritter Beard.
Professor
Mary Beard
OBE
Mary Beard filming in Rome.jpg
Professor Beard being filmed in Rome.
BornWinifred Mary Beard
(1955-01-01) 1 January 1955 (age 59)
Much Wenlock, Shropshire, United Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
OccupationClassical scholar
AwardsWolfson History Prize (2008) for Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town;[1]
Order of the British Empire (Civil) Ribbon.png OBE (2013)

Winifred Mary Beard, OBE, FSA (born 1 January 1955)[2] is Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Newnham College, and Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature. She is the Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog "A Don's Life",[3] which appears in The Times as a regular column. Her frequent media appearances and sometimes controversial public statements have led to her being described as "Britain's best-known classicist".[4]

Youth and education[edit]

Beard, an only child,[5] was born on 1 January 1955 in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Her father, Roy Whitbread Beard,[6] worked as an architect in Shrewsbury. She recalled him as "a raffish public-schoolboy type and a complete wastrel, but very engaging".[4] Her mother Joyce Emily Beard was a headmistress and an enthusiastic reader.[4][6] Beard attended Shrewsbury High School, a private girls' school. During the summer she participated in archaeological excavations; this was to earn money for recreational spending.[5]

At the age of 18 she was interviewed for a place at Newnham College, Cambridge, and sat the then-compulsory entrance exam.[5] She had thought of going to King's, but rejected it when she discovered the college did not offer scholarships to women.[5] Although studying at a single-sex college, she found in her first year that some men in the University held dismissive attitudes towards women's academic potential, and this strengthened her determination to succeed. She also developed feminist views that remained "hugely important" in her later life, although she later described "modern orthodox feminism" as partly cant.[4] Beard received a BA (Hons) at Newnham which in time was converted to an MA.[7][8] She remained at Cambridge for her PhD thesis entitled The state religion in the late Roman Republic: a study based on the works of Cicero in 1982.[6]

Career[edit]

From 1979 to 1983 Beard lectured in Classics at King's College London. She returned to Cambridge in 1984 as a Fellow of Newnham College and the only female lecturer in the Classics faculty.[4][6] Rome in the Late Republic, which she co-wrote with the Cambridge ancient historian Michael Crawford, was published the same year. In 1985 Beard married Robin Cormack. She had a daughter called Zoe in 1985 and a son called Raphael in 1987. Beard became Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement in 1992.[6]

Arms of the University of Cambridge

Shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, Beard was one of several authors invited to contribute articles on the topic to the London Review of Books. She opined that many people, once "the shock had faded", thought "the United States had it coming", and that "[w]orld bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price"[9] (the so-called "Roosting Chickens argument"). In a November 2007 interview, she stated that the hostility these comments provoked had still not subsided, although she believed it had become a standard viewpoint that terrorism was associated with American foreign policy.[4]

In 2004, Beard became Professor of Classics at Cambridge.[6][10] She was also elected Visiting Sather Professor of Classical Literature for 2008–2009 at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has delivered a series of lectures on "Roman Laughter".[11]

In December 2010, on BBC Two, Beard presented the graphic historical documentary Pompeii: Life and Death in a Roman Town, submitting remains from the town to forensic tests, aiming to show a snapshot of residents' lives prior to the eruption of Vesuvius.[12] In 2011 she took part in TV series Jamie's Dream School on Channel 4, and for BBC Two in 2012 she wrote and presented the three part TV series Meet the Romans with Mary Beard which concerns how ordinary people lived in Rome, "The world's first global metropolis". Beard is a regular contributor to the BBC Radio 4 series A Point of View, delivering essays on a broad range of topics including Miss World[13] and the Oxbridge interview.[14]

Beard received considerable online abuse after she appeared on Question Time from Lincolnshire in January 2013 and spoke positively about immigrant workers living in the county.[15][16] Beard repeated abusive comments on her blog, illustrating their ugly nature.[17] She reasserted her right to express unpopular opinions and to present herself in public in an authentic way.[18] On 4 August 2013, she received a bomb threat on Twitter. She said she did not think she was in physical danger, but she did feel harassed in a particularly unpleasant way.[19]

In July 2013, she wrote and presented Caligula with Mary Beard broadcast by BBC Two, where she attempts to sort the truth from the myth.

In April 2013, she was named as Royal Academy of Arts Professor of Ancient Literature.[20]

Honours[edit]

Books[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vanessa Thorpe (29 April 2012). "Mary Beard: the classicist with the common touch". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ (Winifred) Mary Beard; Debrett's biodata
  3. ^ "A Don's Life". Timesonline.typepad.com. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Paul Laity (10 November 2007). "The dangerous don" (interview). The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  5. ^ a b c d Robert McCrum "Up Pompeii with the roguish don", The Observer, 24 August 2008.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "BEARD, Prof (Winifred) Mary" (subscription required). Debrett's People of Today. 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  7. ^ "The Cambridge MA: : Student Registry". Admin.cam.ac.uk. 2012-01-26. Retrieved 2012-11-19. 
  8. ^ Collins, Nick (12 February 2011). "Oxbridge students' MA 'degrees' under threat". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  9. ^ Mary Beard (4 October 2001). "11 September". London Review of Books. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  10. ^ "Appointments, reappointments, and grants of title". Cambridge University Reporter. CXXXV.20 (5992). 2 March 2005. 
  11. ^ "The Sather Professor". University of California, Berkeley Department of Classics. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  12. ^ Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (2008); ISBN 1-86197-516-3 (U.S. title: The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found; Harvard University Press)
  13. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016x4tt A Point of View: Mary Beard - On Age and Beauty
  14. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b017clxk A Point of View: Mary Beard - The Oxbridge Interview
  15. ^ Dowell, Ben. "Mary Beard suffers 'truly vile' online abuse after Question Time". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  16. ^ "Cambridge professor under fire for Boston immigration comments on BBC Question Time", Boston Standard, 21 January 2013
  17. ^ Beard, Mary (27 January 2013). "Internet fury: or having your anatomy dissected online". The Times Literary Supplement. Archived from the original on 7 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Lark Turner (February 15, 2013). "In Britain, an Authority on the Past Stares Down a Nasty Modern Storm". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2013. "I’ve chosen to be this way because that’s how I feel comfortable with myself," Ms. Beard said. "That's how I am. It's about joining up the dots between how you look and how you feel inside, and I think that's what I've done, and I think people do it differently." 
  19. ^ Bomb threat tweet sent to classicist Mary Beard
  20. ^ "Mary Beard named as Royal Academy of Arts professor of ancient literature", The Independent, 10 April 2013
  21. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 9. 29 December 2012.
  22. ^ www.sal.org.uk
  23. ^ Kirsten Reach (January 14, 2014). "NBCC finalists announced". Melville House Publishing. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  24. ^ Admin (January 14, 2014). "Announcing the National Book Critics Awards Finalists for Publishing Year 2013". National Book Critics Circle. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 

External links[edit]