Doctor of Letters for Wadham alum

23rd October 2019

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Flora Fraser (Classics 1977), one of Britain’s most distinguished historical biographers, has been presented with an Honorary Doctorate by King's College London.

  • Flora Fraser

    Flora Fraser receives her Honorary Doctorate

  • Lord Geidt (Chairman of King’s College Council ), Flora Fraser and President & Principal Professor Ed Byrne

    Lord Geidt (Chairman of King’s College Council), Flora Fraser, and President & Principal Professor of King's College, Ed Byrne

  • From left to right: Lord Geidt (Chair); John Ralston Saul; Dr Lawrence Tabak; HRH Prince Zeid ibn Ra’ad Al Hussein; President & Principal Professor Ed Byrne; Carol L. Folt; Flora Fraser; Dr Sania Nishtar, and Professor Rita Giacaman.

Presenting Flora for the honour, Professor Arthur Burns introduced her saying: “Over the past thirty years she has delivered a series of outstanding and widely acclaimed biographies, united in their attention to exploring the significance of the lives lived by remarkable women of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Britain, Europe and North America. 

“From Beloved Emma (1986), her life of Emma Hamilton, to George and Martha Washington: A Revolutionary Marriage (2015), her joint biography of the first president of the United States and his consort Martha Dandridge, which won the George Washington Book Prize  in 2016, all her works have been marked by their strong basis in serious archival research, thoroughness and scholarly rigour.

“These features are always combined not only with sensitivity to the ways that lives as varied and exceptional as those of Pauline Bonaparte or Caroline of Brunswick illuminate wider questions about the experience of women more generally then and today, but with an accessible and unpretentious gift for storytelling that ensures that her work reaches and educates a very wide audience across the English-speaking world.” 

Professor Burns went on to discuss works by Flora on themes that illuminate the history of the British royal family, including her book Princesses, on the daughters of George III, and her work on Queen Caroline.

Flora has also contributed to the book that will accompany a major exhibition that opens in 2020 at the Library of Congress, and then in London, showcasing the papers of Two Georges: George III and George Washington.

Professor Burns concluded his presentation by saying: “Flora is a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery, a judge for literary prizes and co-founder of the Elizabeth Longford prize for Historical Biography. This is named in honour of her distinguished historian/biographer grandmother, which suggests, as does the fact that she is the daughter of the equally distinguished historical biographer Antonia Fraser, that there is indeed something in the genes!”

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