Happy new year, and welcome to the ninth edition of our Spotlight on Somerville series!

In Spotlight, we like to highlight and collate all the ways that our community have been making a splash. They got started early this year, with our alumnae Professor Julia Yeomans and Theresa Wise being named in the New Year Honours for their outstanding careers of distinguished public service in the fields of physics and broadcasting: https://www.some.ox.ac.uk/news/new-year-honours-for-professor-julia-yeomans-frs-and-theresa-wise/

Here are all the ways Somerville has been in the spotlight over the last month…

Susan Cooper’s Dark Is Rising featured on airwaves and at British Library for 50th anniversary [BBC World Sevice; British Library Exhibition]

In what seems sure to become a new Christmas TV tradition, the serial dramatization of Susan Cooper’s novel series The Dark Is Rising was rebroadcast by the BBC to celebrate the first novel’s 50th anniversary. The midwinter-set story sees the Stanton family travel through time to fight the forces of evil: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0dgrz83
Susan also features in the British Library’s ‘Fantasy: Realms of Imagination’ exhibition which is running until 24th February: https://fantasy.seetickets.com/timeslots/filter/fantasy-realms-of-imagination


Dame Esther Rantzen discusses her career and support for assisted dying for Today Podcast [BBC]

Our Honorary Fellow Dame Esther Rantzen sadly shared the news this December that, as she waits to see the outcome of final treatments for her Stage 4 lung cancer, she has joined the Dignitas assisted dying clinic in Switzerland. In conversation with the BBC’s Today Podcast, she and her daughter Rebecca Wilcox reflected on Dame Esther’s career and discussed their support for changes to the UK’s assisted dying laws: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0h06yy5





Prandial Prose: Professor Fiona Stafford on Puddings [BBC Radio 4]

Headshot of English Fellow Fiona Stafford

Somerville’s Fellow and Tutor in English, Professor Fiona Stafford, shared a series of gorgeously gooey festive essays all about puddings. Tuck into the programme and enjoy a winter literature snack, guaranteed to provide high-calorie content (perhaps followed by a long midwinter nap…): https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m001tb2y?partner=uk.co.bbc&origin=share-mobile

The Volcanic Verses: Professor Fiona Stafford [BBC Radio 4]

Fascinating and terrifying in equal measure, volcanoes have triggered an eruption of pyroclastic poetry for more than 2000 years. Join Professor Stafford in her latest Radio 4 programme as she traces humanity’s changing hopes, beliefs and understanding of volcanic activity through literature across cultures, communities and generations: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001trmy

Former Research Fellow Doreen Warriner and alumna Esther Rantzen featured in new blockbuster

Our Research Fellow from 1928-31, Dr Doreen Warriner OBE helped 15,000 German, Czech and Jewish refugees escape Nazi Czechoslovakia as head of the British Committee for Refugees from Czechoslovakia. Her work is featured in a critically acclaimed new film starring Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham carter and Jonathan Pryce, with Warriner portrayed by Romola Garai (Vigil). One Life examines the story of British stockbroker Nicholas Winton and his role in saving Jewish children in then-Czechoslovakia from the holocaust through the Kindertransport. The film also features Esther Rantzen, portrayed by Oliver Award-winning actor Samantha Spiro. One Life is showing in cinemas now. Watch the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ethollg-PI






Recent Alumna and care-leaver Autumn Clarke shares her journey to achieve her dreams [i Newspaper]

Autumn Clarke came to Oxford in 2018 to study English after spending her secondary education living in foster care. After graduating last September, she is now working as a copywriting and living out her dreams, as she shares in this interview. Above all, she gets across the message that young care leavers can achieve their dreams, if they get the right support: https://inews.co.uk/news/left-care-place-oxford-university-2832139

Further reading?

Birthday Honours for Alison Wolf, Suzanne Heywood, Rajesh Thakker and Susie Dent

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19 June 2024
Birthday Honours for Alison Wolf, Suzanne Heywood, Rajesh Thakker and Susie Dent

Active Kindness: Meet the Somervillian Who Saved Thousands from the Nazis

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14 June 2024
Active Kindness: Meet the Somervillian Who Saved Thousands from the Nazis

Somerville Student Stars in Gregory Doran’s Gentlemen of Verona

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13 June 2024
Somerville Student Stars in Gregory Doran’s Gentlemen of Verona