Somerville College, Oxford

Somerville College, Oxford

name = Somerville College
university = Oxford
picture =
primary_colour = black
colours = scarf start
motto = "Donec rursus impleat orbem"
named_for = Mary Somerville
old_names = Somerville Hall
established = 1879
sister_college = Girton College, Cambridge
head_name = Principal
head = Dame Fiona Caldicott
JCR President = Stavros Orfanos
undergraduates = 396
MCR President = Garth Patterson
graduates = 88
location = Woodstock Road, Oxford
latitude = 51.759644
longitude = -1.261872
homepage = [ Homepage]
boat_club = [ Boatclub]
ball = [ Somerville–Jesus Ball]
shield =

Somerville College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, and was one of the first women's colleges to be founded there. As of 2006, Somerville had an estimated financial endowment of £44.5 million. [ [ Oxford College Endowment Incomes, 1973-2006] (updated July 2007)]


In June 1878 the "Association for the Higher Education of Women" was formed, aiming for the eventual creation of a college for women in Oxford. Some of the more prominent members of the association were Dr. Bradley, master of University College, T. H. Green, a prominent liberal philosopher, and Edward Stuart Talbot, Warden of Keble College. The latter insisted on a specifically Anglican institution, which was unacceptable to most of the other members. The two parties eventually split, and one went on to found Lady Margaret Hall. Thus, in 1879, a second committee was formed "in which no distinction will be made between students on the ground of their belonging to different religious denominations". The members of this second committee included Dr. John Percival, Dr. G. W. Kitchin, A. H. D. Ackland, T. H. Green, Mary Ward, William Sidgwick, Henry Nettleship and A. G. Vernon Harcourt. This new effort resulted in the founding of "Somerville Hall", named for the then recently deceased Mary Somerville, one of the greatest Scottish mathematicians of the 19th century. The hall was renamed "Somerville College" in 1894.

Somerville College was converted into a hospital during World War I - Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon were patients there. Sassoon opens "Siegfried's Progress" with a reference to the college. In "Good-bye to All That", Graves comments that in all there were only about a hundred and fifty graduates at Oxford at the time - Rhodes Scholars, Indians and men who were unfit. Thomas Earp, whom Graves met there, set himself the task of keeping the Oxford tradition alive and was president and sole member of seventeen undergraduate social and literary societies.

Somerville remained a women's college until 1992. Today around 50% of students are men.

Principals of Somerville Hall and Somerville College

*Madelaine Shaw-Lefèvre (Principal of Somerville Hall 1879 - 1889)
*Agnes Catherine Maitland (Principal of Somerville Hall 1889–1894, Principal of Somerville College 1894 - 1906)
*Dame Emily Penrose (1906 - 1926) - classical scholar
*Margery Fry (1927 - 1930) - social reformer
*Helen Darbishire (1930 - 1945) - literary scholar
*Dame Janet Vaughan (1945 - 1967) - haematologist and radiobiologist
*Barbara Craig (1967 - 1980)
*Daphne Park, Baroness Park of Monmouth (1980 - 1989)
*Catherine Pestell (1989 - 1991, as Catherine Hughes 1991 - 1996 [As the statutes of the College did not permit the Principal to marry, Miss Pestell resigned, married and was re-elected as Principal, however there was a two week period when the College had no Principal.] )
*Dame Fiona Caldicott (1996 - present)

Notable alumni

"See also "

*Alyson Bailes, former British ambassador and Director of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
*Vera Brittain, novelist
*Dame Kay Davies, human geneticist
*Dame Antonia Susan Duffy (A. S. Byatt), novelist
*Indira Gandhi, former prime minister of India
*Helen Goodman, politician
*Celia Green, philosopher and author
*Dorothy Hodgkin, Nobel Prize winner for her discovery of the structure of Vitamin B12
*Winifred Holtby, novelist
*Sarah Ioannides, music director and conductor
*Margaret Jay, Baroness Jay of Paddington, Labour Party politician, daughter of former British PM James Callaghan and life peer
*Kathleen Kenyon (1906-1978), archaeologist
*Emma Kirkby, classical singer
*Frances Lincoln (1945-2001), publisher
*Genevieve Lloyd, philosopher and feminist
*Kathleen Ollerenshaw, mathematician
*Rose Macaulay, novelist
*Iris Murdoch, novelist
*Esther Rantzen, journalist and children's welfare ambassador
*Michèle Roberts (1949-), writer
*Emma Georgina Rothschild (1948-), economic historian
*Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey books and translator of Dante's "Divina Commedia".
*Matthew Skelton, writer (1971-).
*Cornelia Sorabji, first female Indian barrister, social reformer, and writer
*Margaret Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1979-90 and life peer
*Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby, Liberal Democrats politician and life peer
*Olive Willis (1877-1964), founder of Downe House



*"Somerville for Women: an Oxford College 1879 - 1993", Pauline Adams (OUP, 1996) ISBN 0-19-920179-X

External links

* [ Official website]

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