I think not getting into Cambridge was possibly the best thing that could have happened to me.
I well remember the pride that my parents felt when my brother and I went up to Cambridge, but I also know many friends that I grew up with – brilliant, funny, acutely intelligent girls – who never fulfilled their potential.
I ended up at Durham School, which was lovely, then Trinity College Cambridge.
I’m staggered when I look back at how, when I got to Cambridge, I didn’t know anything of the world.
Cambridge was a joy. Tediously. People reading books in a posh place. It was my fantasy. I loved it. I miss it still.
What has influenced my life more than any other single thing has been my stammer. Had I not stammered I would probably… have gone to Cambridge as my brothers did, perhaps have become a don and every now and then published a dreary book about French literature.
If we help an educated man’s daughter to go to Cambridge are we not forcing her to think not about education but about war? – not how she can learn, but how she can fight in order that she might win the same advantages as her brothers?
The first big break was winning a scholarship to go to Cambridge University. I was very lucky, because my parents couldn’t have afforded a university education for me. Without a scholarship I couldn’t possibly have gone.
I worked in the theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for years and moved to New York and then to Los Angeles.
Since my education, I’ve done quite untraditional things. There are very few Etonians who went to Rada. And far fewer Etonians – certainly when I was there – went to Cambridge. I don’t know whether it’s the same now. Most people I knew went to Oxford, because it seemed more of an easy bridge.
I love the acting community at Cambridge. It’s really quite committed and serious, since the days of Derek Jacobi and Ian McKellen right through to Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie.
People who go to Oxford and Cambridge are often unproductive. What am I saying? This is nonsense. No, sometimes they get so competitive that, unless they’re going to be Pulitzer prize-winning, they can’t get off their backside.
The fact that I’m a Tory who hasn’t worked at a university – at least, not since I taught at Cambridge in 1990 – doesn’t disqualify me from serving on the board of the OfS.
In the fall of 1961, I went up to Clare College Cambridge to read Natural Sciences, with the intention of becoming a biochemist in the end.
In 1968, I left Cambridge and went to work in New York with Irving M. London, who was then the chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
I began my thesis research at Harvard by working with a team in the laboratory of William N. Lipscomb, a Nobel chemistry Laureate, in 1976, on the structure of carboxypeptidase A. I did postdoctoral studies with David Blow at the MRC lab of Molecular Biology in Cambridge studying chymotrypsin.
John Cleese was with a group called Cambridge Circus, who had come to New York, and we became friends. Years later that produced a certain team effort.
When I came to Cambridge, I was involved in the ward for a little bit, but I did have a very gradual process of trying to work out what I thought a good life consisted of.
I was 17 the first time I set foot in a classroom, but 10 years later, I would graduate from Cambridge with a Ph.D. ‘Educated’ is the story of how I came by my education. It is also the story of how I lost my family.
I had a mental breakdown while doing my Ph.D. at Cambridge, soon after I cut off contact with my parents, and I started seeing the university counsellor, one of the best decisions I ever made. There’s something very nourishing in setting aside an hour a week to talk.
Apparently, the most difficult feat for a Cambridge male is to accept a woman not merely as feeling, not merely as thinking, but as managing a complex, vital interweaving of both.
I see in Cambridge, particularly among the women dons, a series of such grotesques! It is almost like a caricature series from Dickens to see our head table at Newnham.
Living in Cambridge, with nature and everything, it’s so clean.
He told me that Francis Crick and Jim Watson had solved the structure of DNA, so we decided to go across to Cambridge to see it. This was in April of 1953.
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