Professor Mary Beard appointed Professor of Ancient Literature
At a recent Royal Academy of Arts General Assembly meeting, Professor Mary Beard OBE was ratified as Professor of Ancient Literature.
The honorary position of Professor of Ancient Literature was instituted in 1770, soon after the Royal Academy’s founding. Previous post-holders include Samuel Johnson and an Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt. Revd. William Howley. Professor Mary Beard takes over from Professor Eric Handley, who died earlier this year.
The Royal Academy of Arts Library holds a significant Historic Book Collection and has long collected classical literature, as the founding texts of History painting. The Professors of Ancient Literature would have been on hand to guide the students in this field and may have helped with selecting translations of the Classics for the library, or even to have provided translations themselves. The Historic Book Collection includes many rare titles reproducing the masterpieces of medieval and post-Renaissance European art and architecture; detailed archaeological surveys of the civilisations of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt; and original editions of virtually all the early treatises on painting, drawing, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, anatomy, perspective, colour theory, art collecting and connoisseurship.
Professor Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Newnham College. She is the Classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement and author of the blog, ‘A Don’s Life’ which appears as a regular column on the TLS website. Mary Beard researches and writes on a wide range of classical topics; her book Pompeii: Life in a Roman Town (2008) won the Wolfson Prize for History and was the basis of a BBC2 documentary shortlisted for a BAFTA. A collection of her reviews and essays, Confronting the Classics, appeared earlier this year.