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Queen Mary Alumni

Arts and Culture

The novelist JG Ballard (1930-2009) enrolled on an English Literature degree at Queen Mary College in 1951. His most notable works include the controversial Crash (1973) and the autobiographical novel, Empire of the Sun (1984), both of which have been adapted to film. His autobiographical memoir Miracles of Life was published in February 2008.

Sir Malcolm Bradbury
(1932-2000), the author, academic, television scriptwriter and literary critic, took an MA in English in 1955. His novels include Rates of Exchange which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. His television adaptations of novels included Tom Sharpe's Porterhouse Blue, Stella Gibbon's Cold Comfort Farm and Kingsley Amis' The Green Man.

Dr Stephen Deuchar (History of Art  PhD, 1985) was Director of the Art Fund, the UK's leading arts charity, from 2010 to 2020, having previously been Director of the Tate Britain from 1998-2009. Formerly he was Director of the Neptune Court Project at the National Maritime Museum where he led the £20m redevelopment of the Museum’s main buildings and displays.

The British Library paid £20,000 for the notebooks and correspondence of author Eva Figes (née Unger) (1932-2012) (English BA, 1953) who published her first novel Equinox in 1966. Eva’s collection has been made available for study alongside those of Harold Pinter and Ted Hughes. Eva’s correspondence with the art critic John Berger about her writing complements the Berger archives which the British Library already holds. Eva was made an Honorary Fellow of Queen Mary in 1990.

Ruth Prawer Jhabvala CBE (1927-2013) (English MA, 1951), Oscar and BAFTA Award winning screenwriter, was best known for her work on the Merchant Ivory films A Room with a View and Howards End. She received the 1975 Man Booker prize for her novel Heat and Dust.

The Hon. Lady Jane Roberts CVO (History and History of Art BA, 1968) has been Curator of the Print Room at Windsor Castle since 1975 and the Royal Librarian since 2002. She has authored and edited many exhibition catalogues, books and academic papers about aspects of the collection including Queen Elizabeth II: a Birthday Souvenir Album, Five Gold Rings, a Royal Wedding Souvenir Album (2007) and Charles, Prince of Wales: a Birthday Souvenir Album (2008).

Sir Roy Strong FRS (History BA, 1956) is an art historian, curator, writer, broadcaster and landscape designer. He was formerly Director of the National Portrait Gallery (1967-73) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (1974-87).

Dr Eleanor Updale (Editing Lives and Letters MRes, 1500-1800, 2003; PhD, 2007) is the author of the Montmorency series of historical novels. She has written four novels, numerous short stories and has won several awards for her writing. Eleanor is a trustee of the charity Listening Books.

Award-winning author Sarah Waters was awarded her PhD in English Literature in 1995. Her novels include Tipping the Velvet (1998), Affinity (1999), Fingersmith (2003), The Night Watch (2006). Her latest novel The Little Stranger was published in June 2009.

Professor Kate Williams
(Writing and Society 1700 to 1820 MA, 1999), historian and author, published her first book England's Mistress: the Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton in 2006. It was Book of the Week on Radio 4, a Book of the Year in The Times and The Independent, and shortlisted for the Marsh Prize for Biography. Her second book Becoming Queen, about the passionate youth of Queen Victoria and Princess Charlotte, was published in 2008. The BBC 2 Timewatch special on 'Young Victoria', based on Becoming Queen, was aired in 2008 and 2009 to critical acclaim. 

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