Jean Wilks, alumna and Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, has died at the age of 97.

Educated at North London Collegiate School, Jean Wilks began her studies in English at Somerville in 1936. In an interview conducted for the Somerville Magazine in 2011, she recalled studying Wordsworth under Helen Darbishire and attending the lectures of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

Miss Wilks was Assistant Mistress of James Allen’s Girls’ School, Dulwich, from 1943 to 1951, Headmistress of Hertfordshire and Essex High School, Bishop’s Stortford from 1951 to 1964, and Headmistress of King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham, from 1964 to 1977. She served as President of the Association of Headmistresses from 1972 to 1974.

Miss Wilks was also very much involved in the administration of the University of Birmingham and continued in her post as Pro-Vice Chancellor well into her eighties, presiding over degree ceremonies, training young lecturers and was sufficiently involved in student affairs to be elected a lifetime member of the Guild (or Student Union). She was also President of the Somerville Association.

A full obituary will appear in the College Report later this year.

Further reading?

Spotlight on Somerville 4: Defending Ukraine’s Universities, Protecting the Pound and More

Learn More
28 September 2022
Spotlight on Somerville 4: Defending Ukraine’s Universities, Protecting the Pound and More

Joyce Reynolds

Learn More
23 September 2022
Joyce Reynolds

The Long Read: An Interview with Professor Iyiola Solanke

Learn More
22 September 2022
The Long Read: An Interview with Professor Iyiola Solanke