Emily Penrose

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Dame Emily Penrose, DBE (18 September 1858, London - 26 January 1942, Bournemouth)[1] was Principal of Somerville College, Oxford University from 1907 until 1926. She was the second of five children and eldest of the four daughters of Francis Cranmer Penrose, architect and archaeologist.

Career[edit]

Penrose, who never married, was emblematic of the history of women in Oxford. This was steady infiltration, as they gradually secured admission first to lectures, then to examinations, and finally, in 1920, to university membership. During this period Somerville took the lead in a number of important respects. In 1894 it became the first of the five women's halls of residence to adopt the title of 'college' and the first of them to appoint its own teaching staff, the first to set an entrance examination, and the first to build a library. With the establishment in 1903 of the Mary Somerville Research Fellowship it was the first to offer women in Oxford opportunities for research. In the 1890s the Somerville Council was prominent in an unsuccessful campaign to admit women to degrees. The success of the 1920 campaign owed much to the diplomatic skills and academic reputation of the Principal, Emily Penrose[2]

Dame Emily Penrose's life is commemorated with her place on the wall in the Somerville College Chapel. In this prominent position, she is bookmarked by fellow ex-principals of the former women's-only college.

She was previously the second Principal of Royal Holloway College (RHC) from 1898-1907 where she succeeded Matilda Ellen Bishop. She was followed in that role by Ellen Charlotte Higgins. Prior to RHC she was the Principal of Bedford College from 1893-1898. Penrose was Principal of Somerville College when Vera Brittain went up to Oxford.

References[edit]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Jesser Reid
Founder
Principal
Bedford College
University of London

1893-1898
Succeeded by
Ethel Hurlbatt
Preceded by
Matilda Ellen Bishop
Principal
Royal Holloway College
University of London

1898-1907
Succeeded by
Ellen Charlotte Higgins
Preceded by
Agnes Catherine Maitland
Principal
Somerville College, Oxford

1907-1926
Succeeded by
Margery Fry