Edith Morley inspires us on International Women’s Day

One of the earliest members of Reading’s English Department will be the focus for our celebrations on International Women’s Day this year. Edith Morley became the first woman appointed to a professorship in a British university-level institution in 1908, but this historic promotion was neither the beginning nor the end of Morley’s story. By the time she was offered the chair, she had already been leading academic studies in the discipline of English at Reading for some time. For years afterwards, Morley struggled for equal recognition and pay.


Edith Morley’s career success, her dedication to her department and her determination to be treated as an equal with her male colleagues has long been a special source of pride for academics and students at Reading. Now her story is receiving the public attention it has long deserved thanks to the publication of her memoir, Before and After: Reminiscences on a Working Lifeby Two Rivers Press.

The publication itself is also a Reading story: the memoir was edited by a former University of Reading librarian, Barbara Morris, and made possible by  a donation from Derek Palmer in memory of his wife Ann Patricia Palmer née Newton (1938 – 2011), who was an undergraduate in the Department from 1956 to 1959.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear Edith Morley’s remarkable academic life being discussed on Woman’s Hour this Tuesday with special guest appearances by our Head of School, Alison Donnell, and the book’s editor, Barbara Morris. Or listen again at  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007qlvb


Edith Morley’s robust dialogue with WM Childs, the University’s first Vice-Chancellor, makes fascinating reading and is held in the university’s special collections along with her lecture books and related papers.

This year’s Edith Morley Lecture will be given by Karen Blackett who became the first woman to top the PowerList 100 of most influential black Britons in 2014.



About Cindy

Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.
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