Berkshire

Edith Morley: First female professor honoured at Reading

Edit Morley Image copyright University of Reading
Image caption Edith Morley was appointed as Professor of English Language at University College, Reading in 1908

Britain's first female professor has been honoured by her former university, by having a faculty named in her memory.

Edith Morley was appointed Professor of English Language at the University of Reading in 1908.

After a student-led campaign, the Humanities and Social Sciences Building has now been named the Edith Morley Building.

It was renamed after an annual lecture named in Prof Morley's honour.

The decision to rename the HumSS building - known as 'the maze' by students due to its complicated layout - was made thanks to a campaign by the Reading University Students' Union (RUSU) in 2015.

The University's Ethics Board "felt strongly that the change of name would serve as a fitting memorial to one of the university's most influential academics".

Image copyright University of Reading
Image caption The Humanities and Social Sciences Building (bottom) will now become the Edith Morley Building

Prof Morley is believed to be the first woman appointed to a chair at a British university-level institution, after becoming English professor at University College Reading (now the University of Reading).

In her autobiography, she described the appointment as "my contribution to the battle for fair dealing for women in public and professional life".

Penny Mordaunt MP officially unveiled the renamed building after giving the annual Edith Morley Lecture, held annually to celebrate her achievements in the field.

The Portsmouth North MP said she was "very honoured" to help rename the building.


Who was Edith Morley?

  • Born in 1875, and attended Kings College [now Oriel College] at the University of Oxford.
  • She said that she had not liked being a girl because of the restrictions placed on her activities by Victorian notions of decorum.
  • In 1908, Morley was appointed Professor of English Language at University College, Reading [Now the University of Reading], thereby becoming the first woman appointed to a chair at an English university-level institution.
  • She is known for her comprehensive 1935 biography of the writer and traveller Henry Crabb Robinson.

Image copyright University of Reading
Image caption Morley was awarded an MBE in 1950