Durham Classicists at Large
This page (which will continue to expand) pulls together the texts from an occasional Facebook series on famous and interesting alumni of the Department which we started in November 2011. It shows, among other things, the enormous breadth of opportunity a training in Classics opens up . . .
Charles Maurice DAVIES, who took a second in Classics and General Literature (the original Classics degree offered at Durham), had significant impact in as a priest, an author, and a journalist. He co-founded the Society of the Holy Cross; he wrote a number of classic titles exploring religion in London (including Mystic London: Or, Phases of Occult Life in the Metropolis); and, in an episode worthy of Scoop, he was arrested as a spy while working for the Daily Telegraph in France on the eve of the Franco-Prussian war. He never lost his interest in Classics: he translated Sophocles and Plautus, and was part of a major project instigated by Cecil Rhodes to English all the sources used by Gibbon for Decline and Fall. He died at the age of 82 in 1910.
The highest-ranking politician to have graduated from our Department – so far, anyway – was Edward SHORTT, who took a BA in Classics here in 1884. Shortt was elected MP for Newcastle, and became Home Secretary in Lloyd-George's peacetime Cabinet, holding that office from 1919 to 1922. In the last five years of his life (he died in 1935), he served as President of the British Board of Film Censors.
Robert SWAN was the first man to walk to both poles, and leading environmentalist. He recently received an Honorary DSc from the University (follow this link for the citation and a full account of his achievements). But before that he had a BA from his studies in Ancient History here, from 1976 - 1979.
Among today’s MPs, we can claim Jenny WILLOTT, who has been MP for Cardiff Central since 2005. (She made headlines last year when she resigned as Chris Huhne’s Parliamentary Aide over the issue of Unviersity tuition fees.) Jenny read Classics here in the early '90s.