Marjorie Wallace (SANE)

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Marjorie Wallace.

Marjorie Shiona Wallace CBE, FRCPsych (Countess Skarbek) (born 10 January 1945[1] in Nairobi, Kenya) is a British writer, broadcaster and investigative journalist[2] and is the chief executive of SANE, a mental health charity in the UK established in 1986.

Early career[edit]

Wallace has a degree in Psychology and Philosophy from University College, London. On leaving university she worked as a trainee producer for The Frost Programme with David Frost (1966-68), and went on to become a religious programmes producer, and a current affairs reporter for London Weekend Television (1969-72).[3] However, she made her mark as an investigative journalist for The Sunday Times (1972-89), for whom, as the paper's Social Services Correspondent, she wrote a series of articles in 1972 highlighting the financial and emotional plight of the Thalidomide children who had been born in the 1950s and 1960s with physical disabilities. As a result of this campaign she met Terry Wiles, about whom she collaborated on a biography, On Giant's Shoulders (1976). This was to be made into a BBC Play of the Week in 1979 in which Wallace was portrayed by Annabel Leventon.

Other investigations as a Sunday Times journalist ranged from the failure of concrete systems building and the 'hot-housing' of genius children to the Dioxin disaster in Northern Italy about which she co-wrote the book Superpoison.


SANE was founded by Wallace after an overwhelming public response to a series of articles written by her for The Times "The Forgotten Illness". The articles underscored the neglect of people suffering from schizophrenia and the paucity of services and treatments. From its initial focus on schizophrenia, SANE developed and is now concerned with all mental illnesses.

Through her network of politicians, businessmen, academics and donors, she helped raise over £20 million through SANE for people with mental health problems and has created The Prince of Wales International Centre for SANE Research in Oxford. SANE pioneered the UK's first national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering practical information and emotional support 365 days a year. HRH The Prince of Wales has said of her work: "There are shining examples of what can be done, such as a series of articles by Marjorie Wallace, which not only laid the foundation of contemporary understanding of mental illness but also led directly to the foundation of SANE, of which I am Patron."

She is probably best known for her book The Silent Twins and the film made from her screenplay which was voted best docudrama in the USA in 1988. She wrote and presented provocative television documentaries - Whose Mind is it Anyway? and Circles of Madness - and gained a reputation as an international lecturer and broadcaster on the subject of mental illness.

Honours and awards[edit]

She has won numerous awards for her journalism and books: as a journalist for The Times she was awarded Campaigning Journalist of the Year for 1988. Wallace has also been Medical Journalist of the Year and she received a British Neuroscience Association award in 2002.[4]

As a result of her "The Forgotten Illness" articles and her subsequent work in the mental illness field she was elected an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2001.[2] Wallace was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1994, and an honorary Doctorate of Science by City University, London in 2001. Since 1990 she has been a Fellow of University College, London.[5]

In 2006 she was selected as one of the 16 key achievers who had made a difference to the health of the nation for an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery [6] and, two years later, was chosen as one of the 60 most influential people in shaping the history of the National Health Service.

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.

Personal life[edit]

Wallace married the psychoanalyst Count Andrzej Skarbek, with whom she had three children. The couple later separated, although they did not divorce. Subsequently she lived with the science writer and broadcaster Tom Margerison and their daughter in Highgate, North London.[7] Margerison died in February 2014.[8]

Publications include[edit]

  • The Silent Twins Marjorie Wallace (1986) ISBN 0-345-34802-8
  • On Giant's Shoulders : the story of Terry Wiles by Marjorie Wallace and Michael Robson Times Books, London (1976) ISBN 0-7230-0146-4


  1. ^ The Times 10 January 2009, Retrieved 2010-01-09
  2. ^ a b The Guardian
  3. ^ The Guardian March 16 2005
  4. ^ The Times online July 8, 2007
  5. ^ City University List of Alumni
  6. ^ "Marjorie Wallace (Countess Skarbeck)". National Portrait Gallery. 
  7. ^ Bloxham, Andy (5 June 2008). "Lord Snowdon's mistress Marjorie Wallace reveals five-year affair". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 29 December 2010. 
  8. ^ Caroline Richmond Obituary: Tom Margerison, The Guardian, 2 March 2014

External links[edit]