Mary Doreen Weeden
22 December 1944
Epsom, Surrey, England, UK
|Education||Cheltenham Ladies' College|
|Spouse(s)||Jeffrey Archer (m. 1966)|
Early life and education
Mary Weeden was born in Epsom, Surrey in December 1944. She was the younger daughter of Harold N. Weeden, a chartered accountant, by his marriage in 1937 to Doreen Cox. She attended Cheltenham Ladies' College, before going on to study chemistry at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she lived next door to Edwina Currie, Ann Widdecombe, and Gyles Brandreth's wife Michèle Brown. She went on to study physical chemistry at Imperial College London.
After a brief period teaching at Oxford University, Mary Archer worked as a scientific researcher under the Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir George Porter at the Royal Institution in London. It was during this period that she became interested in photoelectrochemistry, and she has both written and lectured extensively on the subject. In the mid-1970s, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Solar Energy Society.
From 1988 to 2000, she was chairman of the National Energy Foundation, which promotes improving the use of energy in buildings. She later became its president and is currently its patron She is also president of the UK Solar Energy Society (UK-ISES). Mary Archer is a Companion of the Energy Institute and was awarded the Institute's Melchett Medal in 2002.
In 1994, Lady Archer was a non-executive director of Anglia Television at a time when it was the target of a takeover bid. Following reports from the London Stock Exchange, the Department of Trade and Industry appointed inspectors on 8 February 1994 to investigate possible insider dealing contraventions by certain individuals, including her husband. No charges were brought.
She was chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (incorporating Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals) for ten years until 2012, having previously been a non-executive director (1993–99), and vice-chairman (1999-2002) of Addenbrooke's Hospital NHS Trust. Between 2005 and 2008, she led a pioneer NHS-funded initiative to create patient decision aids for patients with localised prostate cancer (or BPH). In 2007 she was awarded the Eva Philbin Award of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland. She was founder director of Cambridge University Health Partners, 2009–2012, and was deputy chairman of ACT (Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust) from 1997-2015. She is currently leading a group to create an online PDA and information/advice for bladder cancer patients in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and across the Anglia Cancer Network.
In December 2013, a new link road was opened in Cambridge connecting the Addenbrooke’s Road to the southern side of the hospital opposite the Rosie extension. This road was named Dame Mary Archer Way in recognition of the achievements of the former chairman.
She is chair of Imperial College Health Partners' Expert Advisory Board, and a trustee of the UK Stem Cell Foundation. In 2014 she joined Hydrodec Group plc as a non-executive director. She remains a fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge and is a visiting professor at Imperial College, London. She has been an honorary fellow St Anne's College Oxford since 2013. She serves on the Department of Trade and Industry's energy advisory group and a committee to promote science.
She married Jeffrey Archer in July 1966, having met him at Oxford University, where Jeffrey had been studying for a Diploma in Education. She has described Jeffrey as being "fun, ebullient ... [h]e was older than my contemporaries and I liked that. He did things I'd never sort of done."
Life with Jeffrey Archer
Between 1967 and 1974, she supported her husband's political career, first when he became a member of the Greater London Council, then from 1969 when he was elected as MP for Louth, Lincolnshire. She later supported him during his tenure as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party (1985–86), and again during his ultimately ill-fated campaign to become London Mayor in 1999.
In the summer of 1974, the Archers were struck by a financial crisis when Jeffrey lost over £400,000 in a bad investment. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, the Archers were forced to move out of their large house in The Boltons. Mary Archer took up a teaching post at Cambridge University which, together with her husband's eventual success as a novelist, saved them from financial ruin.
In 1987 she gave evidence at the High Court in a libel case brought by her husband against the Daily Star newspaper, which claimed Jeffrey had slept with a prostitute called Monica Coghlan. During his summing up at the end of the trial, the judge, Mr Justice Caulfield, asked: "Has she elegance? Has she fragrance? Would she have, without the strain of this trial, radiance?"
In 2001, when Jeffrey Archer was accused of having committed perjury in the 1987 trial, she appeared at the Old Bailey to defend him. Jeffrey Archer was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for perjury and perverting the course of justice. The trial judge, Mr Justice Potts, questioned the veracity of Lady Archer's evidence, suggesting that she too had perjured herself. However, no further action was taken.
In 2003, she took her former PA, Jane Williams, to court over an alleged breach of confidentiality. Lady Archer sought a permanent injunction against Williams, claiming she had stolen confidential documents about the family, and had planned to sell the information to the media. Williams had previously taken Lady Archer to an industrial tribunal over claims of unfair dismissal.
She is a keen singer, singing first alto, and enjoys Baroque and Renaissance music. She also plays the piano and belongs to a small choir, Cantus, in Cambridge. In 1988 she brought out a CD of Christmas carols, titled A Christmas Carol. She is a non-executive director of the Britten Sinfonia, and has been president of the Guild of Church Musicians since 1989.
She has written and contributed to various volumes of work concerning solar energy, the most significant being Photochemical & Photoelectrochemical Approaches to Solar Energy Conversion, which took 15 years to write. She has also co-edited Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics (2001); Molecular to Global Photosynthesis (2004); The 1702 Chair of Chemistry at Cambridge: Transformation and Change (2005) and Nanostructured and Photoelectrochemical Systems for Solar Photon Conversion (2008).
In addition, Mary Archer has written (along with Nevill Wilmer) a book about Rupert Brooke's time at The Old Vicarage, Grantchester (Rupert Brooke and The Old Vicarage, Grantchester), published in May 1989, and more recently a book about the history of The Old Vicarage: The Story of The Old Vicarage Grantchester, published in 2012.
In 2011, she revealed that she had recently undergone major surgery (removal of bladder) for bladder cancer at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Despite her husband's offer to pay for her to have this surgery privately, she opted to be treated as a standard NHS patient on the public wards of her local hospital.
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- Archer, Mary (24 August 2013). "Mary Archer: Most men need a wife to pump up their ego. Jeffrey needed one to puncture his". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
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- "Dame Mary's survival story" (PDF). Norfolk and Waveney - Prostate Cancer Support Group Newsletter (52). November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
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- Archer, Mary. The Story of The Old Vicarage Grantchester. ISBN 978-0-9572551-0-4.
- Crick, Margaret. Mary Archer: For Richer, For Poorer. ISBN 0-7432-5962-9.
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