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International Women's Day: Alumnae

Written by Eleanor Sanger, posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018

Over the past year we've had a number of fascinating stories relating to alumnae and their achievements once they've left Christ Church, including honours from the Queen, book publications, and inclusion in a Bodleian exhibition! Take a look at some of the stories below to find out more about the amazing work that's been done by female members of the House, and click on the links in each paragraph to read the full story: 


Two Christ Church alumni were recognised in the 2018 New Year’s Honours, including Elizabeth Dymond (PPE, 1985), who was appointed CBE for public service. Elizabeth Dymond joined the Charity for Civil Servants as Director of Finance and Corporate Services in April 2016, after sixteen years in the Civil Service. She qualified as a chartered accountant while working as an auditor at Coopers & Lybrand. Her private sector experience also includes three years as Group Management Accountant at 3i plc, then a FTSE 100 company. In the public sector, Elizabeth has worked at the Office of Fair Trading, was Chief Financial and Accounting Adviser at the Competition Commission, and most recently was a senior civil servant at HM Treasury. Since The portrait of Jan Morris2015 she has also been Trustee and Chair of the Audit Committee of Victim Support, a national charity providing support to people affected by crime or traumatic events.

A portrait of Christ Church alumna Jan Morris was included in the Bodleian’s exhibition ‘The full picture: Oxford in portraits’, which featured more than 20 paintings, drawings and photographs commissioned earlier this year as part of the Diversifying Portraiture project led by the University’s Equality and Diversity unit. Jan Morris is a historian, author and travel writer, who was born James Humphrey Morris. As a child, James attended Christ Church Cathedral School, before joining the army at 17, being posted to Palestine, Venice and Trieste in 1946 with the 9thQueen’s Royal Lancers. He joined Christ Church in 1949, studying English, after which he began an illustrious career in journalism, at the Times and the Manchester Guardian. He accompanied Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay on their ascent of Everest in 1953, covering the expedition exclusively for the Times, and got the news of their success (delivered in a coded message) to London in time for it to be released on the day of the Queen’s coronation. During the 1960s he began to write books, publishing a cultural history of Venice that would establish him as a major writer. In total Jan has published around 40 books, including the Pax Britannica trilogy on the history of the British Empire, and many others describing her extensive Black Tudorstravels around the world. One of her books, Conundrum, became a worldwide bestseller when it was published in 1974, and describes the process of her transitioning from male to female, including the beginnings of her medical transition in the 1960s, and her sex reassignment surgery in 1972.

Christ Church alumna Miranda Kaufmann (History, 2001) published her first book, Black Tudors: The Untold Story, exploring the lives of ten Africans during the Tudor and Stuart eras, bringing to light the histories of black Africans who were present at some of the defining moments of the age and providing a fascinating glimpse into their daily lives and how they were treated. Miranda read History at Christ Church, and completed her doctoral thesis on ‘Africans in Britain 1500-1640’ in 2011. Whilst at Christ Church she also developed a love of rugby, and became college captain, gaining two winning Blues after beating Cambridge 20-0 and 25-7 in 2005 and 2006. She is now a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, part of the School of Advanced Study in the University of London, and has worked as a freelance historian and journalist for The Sunday Times, the BBC, the National Trust, English Heritage, the Oxford Companion series, Quercus publishing, and the Rugby Football Foundation.