Mary Archer

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The Lady Archer of Weston-super-Mare

Archer in 2011
Mary Doreen Weeden

(1944-12-22) 22 December 1944 (age 79)
Epsom, Surrey, England
EducationCheltenham Ladies' College
Alma mater
(m. 1966)
Scientific career
FieldsSolar power conversion
Doctoral studentsJoanna Bauldreay

Mary Doreen Archer, Baroness Archer of Weston-super-Mare, DBE (née Weeden; born 22 December 1944[1]) is a British scientist specialising in solar power conversion. She is married to Jeffrey Archer, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Archer is the current Chancellor of the University of Buckingham.

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Weeden was born in Epsom, Surrey, in December 1944. She was the younger daughter of Harold N. Weeden, a chartered accountant,[2] and Doreen Cox.[3] She attended Cheltenham Ladies' College, before reading chemistry at St Anne's College, Oxford. She went on to study for a PhD in physical chemistry at Imperial College London.[4] Her thesis was titled "Heterogeneous catalysis of inorganic substitution reactions" and was submitted in 1968.[5]


Archer was a junior research fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford, from 1968 to 1971.[6] She was then a temporary lecturer in chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford for the 1971/72 academic year.[6] After Oxford, she worked as a scientific researcher under George Porter at the Royal Institution in London.[1] It was during this period that she became interested in photoelectrochemistry, and has since 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.[2] Between 1976 and 1986, she was a fellow of Newnham College and a lecturer in chemistry at Trinity College of the University of Cambridge.[6][7] From 1984 to 1991, she was a director of the Fitzwilliam Museum Trust in Cambridge. She was a non-executive director of Mid Anglia Radio plc between 1988 and 1995.[8] She sings first alto and in 1992 released a CD of Christmas carols, titled A Christmas Carol.[9] In 1988, Archer joined the Council of Lloyds Insurance Company, becoming chair of the Lloyds Hardship Committee the following year.[2] She had been a Lloyds 'Name' since 1977.[10]

From 1988 to 2000, she was chair of the National Energy Foundation, which promotes improving the use of energy in buildings. She later became its president[11] and is currently its patron.[12] She is also president of the UK Solar Energy Society (UK-ISES). Weeden is also a Companion of the Energy Institute and was awarded the institute's Melchett Medal in 2002.[7]

She has written and contributed to various volumes of work concerning solar energy, including Photochemical & Photoelectrochemical Approaches to Solar Energy Conversion, which took 15 years to write. She 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).[7]

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 trading contraventions by certain individuals, including her husband. No charges were brought.[13]

She was chair of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (incorporating Addenbrooke's and the Rosie Hospitals) for 10 years until 2012, having previously been a non-executive director (1993–99), and vice-chair (1999–2002) of Addenbrooke's Hospital NHS Trust.[14] 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.[7] She was founder director of Cambridge University Health Partners, 2009–2012,[15] and was deputy chair of ACT (Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust) from 1997 to 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.[16]

On 24 February 2020, Archer was installed as chancellor of the University of Buckingham.[17]

Archer served as a trustee of the Science Museum Group from 1990 to 2000, and was appointed its chair in 2015.[18]


Archer was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to the National Health Service.[19][20]

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.[21]

Personal life[edit]

She married Jeffrey Archer in July 1966, having met him at Oxford University, where he had been studying for a diploma in education.[22] They have two children: William[23] and James.

The Archers live in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, near Cambridge.[24]

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.[25] Mary took up a teaching post at Cambridge University which, together with her husband's eventual success as a novelist, saved them from financial ruin.[10]

In 1987 she gave evidence at the High Court in a libel case brought by her husband against the Daily Star newspaper, which had correctly reported that he had hired a sex worker, with whom he had sexual intercourse.[26] In 2001, when Jeffrey Archer was prosecuted for having committed perjury and for perverting the course of justice in the 1987 trial, she appeared at the Old Bailey as a defence witness.[27] Jeffrey Archer was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for perjury and perverting the course of justice.[28] The trial judge, Mr Justice Potts, questioned the veracity of Mary Archer's evidence, suggesting that she too had perjured herself.[22] However, no further action was taken.[29]

In 2003, she sued her former personal assistant, Jane Williams over her breach of confidentiality. Archer was granted[30] a permanent injunction against Williams plus £2,500 damages, for her claim she misappropriated confidential documents about the Archer family, and had contracted the sale of the personal information to the media which was then published by the Sunday Mirror newspaper.[31] Williams had taken Archer to an industrial tribunal on a complaint of unfair dismissal. The complaint was dismissed by the panel in 2002.[32][33][34]

Between 1991 and 1999 she sat on the council of The Cheltenham Ladies' College.[8]

In 2011 she said she had recently undergone major surgery for bladder cancer.[35]


  1. ^ a b Archer, Mary (2006). "Contribution from Mary Archer". The Life and Scientific Legacy of George Porter. pp. 585–609. doi:10.1142/9781860948930_0016. ISBN 978-1-86094-660-8. Retrieved 14 October 2021. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  2. ^ a b c Rustin, Susanna (23 October 2015). "Dame Mary Archer interview: 'To me everything has to work round family, and fortunately it has'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Index entry: Weeden, Harold N., spouse: Cox, registration entry: Surrey Mid. E., volume/page: 2a/628". Transcription of official national marriages registers compilation for England and Wales 1835–1983. ONS. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ Maguire, Kevin (20 July 2001). "Why Mary has stood by her man". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  5. ^ Archer, Mary Doreen (1968). Heterogeneous catalysis of inorganic substitution reactions. E-Thesis Online Service (Ph.D). The British Library. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  6. ^ a b c "Archer, Dame Mary (Doreen), (born 22 Dec. 1944), Chair: Science Museum Group, since 2015 (Trustee, National Museum of Science and Industry, 1990–2000); External Advisory Board, Centre for Personalised Medicine, St Anne's College, Oxford, since 2013". Who's Who 2021. Oxford University Press. 1 December 2020. Retrieved 6 November 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d "Speaker Profile: Dame Mary Archer". Speakers for schools. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b Bedell, Geraldine (23 October 2011). "Interview: Mary Archer – A Jeffreyish streak". The Independent. Retrieved 14 October 2021.
  9. ^ Bedell, Geraldine (23 October 2011). "Interview: Mary Archer – A Jeffreyish streak: With her seasonal album, the demure ex-don reveals a taste for publicity". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  10. ^ a b Rayner, Jay (1 October 2000). "Mary had a little lamb..." The Observer. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  11. ^ "National Energy Foundation trustees: Mary Archer". National Energy Foundation. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  12. ^ "National Energy Foundation welcomes new Chair". National Energy Foundation. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  13. ^ Watt, Nicholas (30 October 1999). "Archer's share deal under scrutiny again". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  14. ^ "Mary Archer receives award in Queen's Birthday Honours list". 16 June 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  15. ^ "Prime Minister appoints Dame Mary Archer as new chairman of the Science Museum group". Department of Culture, Media and Sport. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  16. ^ "Dame Mary Archer profile at Rightcare". 29 October 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Dame Mary Archer appointed new Chancellor of the University of Buckingham". Buckingham & Winslow Advertiser. 23 January 2020. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
  18. ^ "Board of Trustees". Science Museum Group. 2021. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  19. ^ "No. 60173". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 June 2012. p. 6.
  20. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours: Mary Archer made Dame". BBC News. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  21. ^ "New road drives Cambridge to top spot for biomedical research". Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  22. ^ a b Stanford, Peter (19 February 2016). "Mary Archer: 'Jeffrey asked from jail if I wanted a divorce, but I'm not a quitter'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  23. ^ "William Archer profile at Bob&Co". London. Archived from the original on 14 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  24. ^ Scott, Danny (4 November 2018). "At home with Lord and Lady Archer". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  25. ^ "CHEAPER THAN FICTION – A BARGAIN IN THE BOLTONS". 10 July 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2020.
  26. ^ Bindman QC, Geoffrey (4 September 2009). "The fragrant Archers". New Law Journal. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  27. ^ "Mary Archer: For better and worse", BBC News, 2001
  28. ^ Clough, Sue (20 July 2001). "The end: Archer goes to jail". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  29. ^ Kelso, Paul (23 July 2001). "Mary Archer may sell her story". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  30. ^ Agencies (3 July 2003). "Lady Archer wins high court battle". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  31. ^ Woolcock, Nicola (3 July 2003). "'Lady Archer's attractive but her husband's a jerk'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  32. ^ Morris, Steven (3 September 2002). "Mary Archer was difficult and mean, says aide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  33. ^ Sapsted, David (2 September 2002). "Lady Archer fights claim by sacked secretary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  34. ^ "Lady Archer vindicated by tribunal". The Guardian. 25 October 2002. Retrieved 26 December 2022.
  35. ^ Bloxham, Andy (19 August 2011). "Mary Archer on her battle with bladder cancer". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 April 2012.

Further reading[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Buckingham