Professor Lisa Jardine (1944-2015)

Professor Lisa Anne Jardine, Honorary Fellow, has died aged 71 on Sunday 25 October.  An undergraduate at Newnham, she became Fellow and College Lecturer in English at King’s in 1975, her first Cambridge post. She had just published her thesis, Francis Bacon: Discovery and the Art of Discourse (1974), when she was appointed to King’s. She completed her graduate work with Robert Bolgar (Fellow 1946-85), whose influence on Renaissance studies was profound. After her appointment at King's, she soon received a University Lectureship and Fellowship at Jesus College (1976-89).

Her interest in Shakespeare and Elizabethan and Jacobean plays resulted in the publication of Still Harping on Daughters: Women and Drama in the Age of Shakespeare (1983). Lisa worked closely with the Princeton historian Anthony Grafton, producing two seminal articles on the reading of texts in the Renaissance and one highly acclaimed book, From Humanism to the Humanities: Education and the Liberal Arts in Fifteenth and Sixteenth-Century Europe (1986). Lisa also wrote a strikingly original biography of Erasmus, Erasmus, Man of Letters: The Construction of Charisma in Print, showing how the great scholar used print technology to disseminate a (largely false) image of himself. This was awarded the prestigious Bainton Book Prize for 1993.  By this time she was Professor of English and Dean of Arts at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London.

Lisa was as much a feminist and engaged Labour supporter as she was an academic. While at Cambridge she had been on the executive of the Cambridge Labour Party and wrote regularly for the press on women’s rights. She served as a trustee of the Victoria and Albert Museum and chaired the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. She was equally proud of her work as a governor of schools in Cambridge and London.  A brilliant broadcaster, she was heard to best effect on Radio 3’s The Essay, talking vividly and persuasively about events and issues, domestic, national and international. She inspired a whole generation of graduate students, to whom she was devoted. Her Honorary Fellowship at King’s in 1995 recognised how much she still regarded the College as an intellectual home. Her biography, On a Grander Scale: The Outstanding Career of Sir Christopher Wren (2002), was followed very quickly by The Curious Life of Robert Hooke: The Man Who Measured London (2004), and a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2005 only spurred her to more activity.

Tributes have appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Times Higher Education Supplement and the BBC. In this video interview with Professor Alan Macfarlane, Lisa discusses her time at Cambridge and King's.

26 October 2015