Newnham’s new Dames: Mary Beard and Emma Thompson recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Four Newnham alumni in total have just been made dames


Mary Beard says she is '100 per cent delighted' to be made a dame in what constitutes a record-breaking Queen's birthday honours for Newnham, her college.

Beard joins fellow Newnham alumni, actor Emma Thompson, civil servant and diversity advocate Sue Owen, and local government CEO Stella Manzie in becoming Dames in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2018, announced on Friday.

Beard and Thompson have been recognised for services to the study of classical civilisation and drama respectively. Beard studied Classics in 1973 at Newnham and returned in 1984 as a fellow, the only female lecturer at the time in the Classics Faculty. Thompson studied English at Newnham in 1977 and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1993, for her role in Howards End.

Manzie has been made a dame for her 'outstanding track record of transformational public service'. She was chief executive of Birmingham City Council, taking over the beleaguered authority last year after the council announced a huge deficit in its budget. Owen became the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Champion in July 2015.

Beard told Cambridge News: 'No-one works in a vacuum. I have been at Cambridge [teaching] since 1984. For me it has been fantastically supportive and my college, Newnham, has also really stuck up for women having an academic career.'

Beard's recent work includes the BBC television series Civilisations. Her co-presenter, Simon Schama, was also honoured on Friday, appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). Schama studied History and taught at Christ's College, before moving to the United States – to Harvard and now Columbia University.

Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, stated: '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.'