Newnham academic still breaking ground at 98 as she is awarded Kenyon Medal for her research – the first time a woman has received the honour

Mary Beard, Joyce Reynolds and Pat Easterling

Classicist Joyce Reynolds has been honoured by the British Academy for her services to academia.

The Newnham academic was awarded the prestigious Kenyon Medal 2017 for her lifetime’s contribution to the research and study of Roman epigraphy.

The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future. It awards the Kenyon Medal biennially in recognition of work in the fields of classical studies and archaeology.

The award was endowed by Sir Frederic Kenyon and was awarded for the first time in 1957 – Joyce is the first woman to receive the award.

She is one of the leading ancient historians in the world and is still active in her late 90s. She has always been interested in how the Roman Empire was governed and how its subjects reacted.

Her work has centred largely on the study of Roman texts inscribed on stone. On some occasions it involved dangerous exploration searching for new inscriptions in Libya and Turkey, combined with painstaking work in deciphering and interpretation.

Her work on texts discovered at the ancient town of Aphrodisias produced some of the most important new evidence for the Roman civil wars.

Now age 98, she is currently working on what people scribbled on the walls at Pompeii. She directed studies at Newnham from 1951-1979, was Lecturer in Classics from 1957-1983 and Reader in the Epigraphy of the Roman World at Cambridge from 1983-1984.

She, alongside one of her former pupils – the eminent Professor Pat Easterling – taught Professor Mary Beard, one of Britain’s best known contemporary Classicists, during her time as a student at Newnham.

Professor Beard, Newnham Fellow, said: “Joyce and Pat are two of the greatest classicists and classical teachers in the world. I was unbelievably privileged to be taught by them. They taught me what it is to learn, there’s nothing more important than that.”

Professor Dame Carol Black, Principal of Newnham College, said: “Joyce is a remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to the research and teaching of Classics. She has enhanced the tradition of Classics scholarship at Newnham and launched many of her students on a lifelong quest for learning. She taught them that there is always more to discover. This award from The British Academy acknowledges her service to academia and is richly deserved. She is an inspiration to us all.”

Joyce is an Honorary Fellow of Newnham and remains closely connected to the College.

Photo caption from left to right: Professor Mary Beard, Joyce Reynolds and Professor Pat Easterling.