A Cambridge professor who bridges the gap between science and literature is to be awarded an Honorary Degree by Leicester University.
Professor Dame Gillian Beer, DBE, FBA, is to receive the degree of Doctor of Letters at the July Degree Congregation, to be held in the De Montfort Hall, Leicester.
Professor Beer is the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge and President of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Educated at St Anne's College, Oxford, she was awarded an MA and Blitt and became an Honorary Fellow in 1990. She was also awarded a LittD from Cambridge, where she became Assistant Lecturer in 1966 and Professor of English in 1989.
She has also taught at London and Liverpool universities, and was a Fellow of Girton College between 1964 and 1994, as well as Vice-President of the British Academy from 1994-96.
In 1997 Professor Beer was appointed to chair the panel of judges for the Booker Prize, which involved reading 106 novels published that year throughout the Commonwealth.
For the past twenty years she has studied the world of Victorian fiction as well as researched "science as part of cultural life". Her publication, Darwin's Plots(1983) examines Charles Darwin's difficulties in expressing new scientific ideas with inadequate language.
She finds teaching undergraduates stimulates new ideas in her research, and - as she confessed in an interview to Cambridge present in 1998 - feels it keeps her young.
Speaking of her pleasure at receiving an honorary degree from Leicester University, Professor Beer said: "The Victorian Studies Centre at Leicester University has been an important resource for me and I am delighted to be honoured by this distinguished university."
Professor Beer is one of ten people prominent in the worlds of academia, medicine, science and industry to receive an honorary degree from Leicester University in July.
The full list of honorands is:
Mr Tim Appleton, Manager of the Rutland Water Nature Reserve; Professor Dame Gillian Beer, DBE, FBA, King Edward VII Professor of English Literature at the University of Cambridge; Dr Philip Campbell, Editor of Nature; Dr Ken Edwards, Vice-Chancellor of Leicester University who retires in September; Professor Fred Leckie, Department of Engineering, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA; Mr Chris Moon, a former Captain in the Royal Anglian Regiment, now an active campaigner against the use of land mines; Professor Sir Keith Peters, FRS, Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Cambridge; The Honourable Raymond Seitz, former US Ambassador to the UK; Sir Richard Sykes, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of Glaxo Wellcome; and Professor Sir Anthony Wrigley, Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Note to editors: Professor Beer will receive her degree on Thursday 22 July 1999 at 3.00 pm in the De Montfort Hall, Leicester.
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