Dame Marjorie Williamson
An only child, Elsie Marjorie (July 30 1913-August 12 2002) was born in Burton on Trent, but her family moved to Wakefield in the year of her birth. She was educated at Wakefield Girls’ High School and graduated from Royal Holloway College in 1936 with degrees in both mathematics and physics. She stayed on at the college as demonstrator in physics, and she happily involved herself in college life, most strikingly playing double-bass in the college orchestra.
During WWII, she lectured at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, returning to Bedford College, London in 1945 as physics lecturer with research interests in the unification of the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics and electromagnetic theory.
It was during her 10 years at Bedford that she first became attracted to college administration. From 1955 to 1962, EMW was principal of St Mary’s College, Durham and had a happy and very productive time, moving the small college through transformation and into great success. Marjorie was a tall, imposing figure who presided with grace and dignity. Her approach to students was friendly without familiarity.
She continued to lecture in relativity, so she could get to know students as individuals and not just as subjects to be administered. In 1986, she moved again, to a converted barn in Suffolk. Though happy at being near old friends, ill-health made her final years increasingly difficult. She faced them with courage and good humour. She died aged 89.
Dame Marjorie Williamson is Number 9 in our quest for #BluePlaqueParity.
We unveiled Marjorie’s blue plaque at Wakefield’s Festival of the Moon in August 2019.
Comic Book illustrated by Shannon S. Wishon based on the play “Professor Quantum” written by Caleb Shepherd