Norah Lillian Penston

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Norah Lillian Penston (20 August 1903 – 1 February 1974) was a British botanist and academic administrator. She was principal of Bedford College, University of London, from 1951 to 1964.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Nora Penston was the daughter of A. J. Penston. She was educated at the Bolton School and St Anne's College, Oxford where she obtained a BA in botany in 1927. She studied under W. O. James, researching the potassium nutrition of potatoes for her DPhil, which she gained in 1930.[2]


Penston was demonstrator in Botany at Oxford in 1928–29. She then moved to King's College London, where she was assistant lecturer from 1933 to 1936 and lecturer from 1936 to 1945. From 1940 to 1944 she served as acting head of Botany at King's College.[1] In 1945 she became the first woman to be vice-principal of Wye College, part of the University of London, following its amalgamation with Swanley Horticultural College for Women.[2] She was also head of biological sciences department at Wye from 1947 to 1951.[1] Appointed Principal of Bedford College in 1951, she remained there until her retirement in 1964.[3]

She was unmarried.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Penston, Norah Lillian Who Was Who A & C Black 1920–2008 online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 27 Dec 2011
  2. ^ a b 'Dr Norah Penston. Formerly Principal of Bedford College', The Times, 5 February 1974
  3. ^ 'New Principal for Bedford College', The Times, 21 March 1964
Academic offices
Preceded by
Geraldine Emma May Jebb
Principal of Bedford College
University of London

Succeeded by
Elizabeth Millicent Chilver