Sufiah Yusof

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Sufiah Yusof (born 1984) is a British mathematics prodigy of Malaysian and Pakistani origin from Northampton, who entered the University of Oxford at the age of 13. She was reported as missing after completing the third-year exams of her four-year integrated master's degree, prompting a widely publicised police search, and was found working as a waitress at a café in Bournemouth. After completing her degree, she went on to work in various non-mathematical professions, as an administrative assistant and social worker.

Early life and education[edit]

Sufiah Yusof was born in 1984 to her Pakistani father Farouk and Malaysian mother Halimaton Yusof, both of whom were described as devout Muslims. Yusof was homeschooled in Weston Favell, Northampton, where she grew up. At the age of 12, she was ranked eighth among under-21 tennis players in the United Kingdom.[1][2]

Yusof first made news headlines at the age of 12 in 1997, after being given an offer to read mathematics at St Hilda's College, Oxford, conditional on her A-Level further mathematics grade.[3] She started her degree at the age of 13.[4][5]

On 22 June 2000, at the age of 15, she disappeared from her university for over two weeks, prompting a widely publicised police search.[6][7] She was found working as a waitress in a Bournemouth Internet café two weeks later, but refused to return home, alleging that her parents made life difficult for her at home,[8] and complaining of physical and emotional abuse.[9] Her older brother also later alleged abuse by their father towards the children.[10] She stayed with a foster family instead. She completed her course but failed to take her final exams because of ill health.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Sufiah Yusof married Jonathan Marshall, a trainee lawyer from Oxford; their marriage ended after 13 months. They had moved to London, and then Singapore, during the course of their marriage, and after it ended, Yusof moved back to London to read economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.[10]

In March 2008, she was discovered working as a prostitute,[10] under the pseudonym Shilpa Lee.[11] She said that she became a prostitute after incurring £3500 (US$$6,811) in debts while working in Manchester as an administrative assistant for a construction company, and was quoted as saying that "I have a nice life and I am in control" and that she had no regrets.[12] In December, a British Islamic organization reported that she had left prostitution to become a social worker.[13][14]

Yusof currently blogs on media issues at her personal website called the Inquiring Feminist and curates the Feminism Channel at Waywire.[6][15]


  1. ^ Kelly, Jane (1998-08-16). "The Brightest Family in Britain - And They Achieved It By Rejecting Everything That We Believe In". Daily Mail. 
  2. ^ "Subject can still serve ace". Times Higher Education. 1997-01-17. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. 
  3. ^ "12-year-old girl to win Oxford place". The Independent. 1997-03-15. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  4. ^ Marshall, Andrew (17 February 2003). "Small Wonders". Time. Retrieved 2008-03-31. 
  5. ^ "Oxford place for girl, 12". The Times. 13 January 1997. p. 2. 
  6. ^ a b "Missing prodigy found safe". BBC News. 2000-07-06. Retrieved 2012-02-13. 
  7. ^ Wright, Oliver (3 July 2000). "Teenage girl prodigy goes missing after Oxford exams". The Times. p. 1. 
  8. ^ Lee, Alfred (8 July 2000). "Police find runaway prodigy in London hotel". The Straits Times. 
  9. ^ Hattenstone, Simon; Brockes, Emma (2000-07-07). "'I'm not Crybaby Soo-Fi any more'". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Archived from the original on 2014-05-09. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  10. ^ a b c d Tweedie, Neil (2008-04-01). "Sufiah Yusof - child genius revealed as prostitute". Archived from the original on 2010-03-07. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  11. ^ Sufiah Yusof: No regrets on being callgirl, like Pretty Woman, The Daily Telegraph, 8 April 2008.
  12. ^ Tozer, James (2008-04-07). "'I love being a call girl - I'm in control,' boasts fallen child genius". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 2015-08-14. Retrieved 2015-10-03. 
  13. ^ Sufiah swaps prostitution for social work, The Star Online, 3 December 2008.
  14. ^ Sufiah a social worker
  15. ^ Inquiring Feminist