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Lady Carla Cooper Carlisle

Areas of Interest

Campaigner, Education, Literature

Honorary Award

Honorary Fellowship of the University, 2005


Born in Mississippi, USA, Carla Cooper Carlisle has been a political activist, teacher, journalist, restaurateur and writer. She studied History and Economics at Sarah Lawrence College and also at Princeton, at a time when the University did not even award degrees to women. After moving to California she became involved in the launch of Molly Maguire, the left-wing newspaper sold outside factory gates. This proved good preparation for her next role as regular freelance journalist for the Washington Post. Carla next moved to Paris where, alongside teaching English Literature to students sitting examinations at the Sorbonne, she began work on a series of programmes for ABC Television. After moving to London her writing career continued to prosper and more recently she has received much acclaim for her regular "Spectator" column in Country Life Magazine. This work has since been used as the basis for her book South Facing Slope (2001).

In 2005 Carla Cooper Carlisle was given the award Honorary Fellowship of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Fellowship of the University to Lady Carla Cooper Carlisle, BA, popularly known as Carla, an American writer celebrated for her works on English country life with a wonderful reputation for encouraging adults back into education and who is also a viticulturist extraordinaire!

Carla was born in Greenwood, Mississippi and began her education there. However, her parents' civil rights activities at a time of increasing public pressure for political change towards a more equal society in the USA, led to the family moving and her secondary education was undertaken at the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington DC. Subsequently she pursued a BA degree in History and Economics in part at the Ivy League Sarah Lawrence College and in part at Princeton University, at a time when it had not yet begun to award degrees to women!

After university, during the Viet Nam era, Carla went off to become a political activist and to "...save the world..." in California, where she began work in a factory producing chemicals and plant defoliants for use in the Viet Nam war. Here she also became involved in the launch of a "left wing" newspaper called Molly Macguire, which was sold at factory gates.

After several years, Carla moved on to south Atlanta where she wrote a novel, which remains unpublished, to this day and later she became a regular freelance journalist (or 'stringer') for the Washington Post. She then moved to Paris where she began writing a series on 19th Century Romantics for the ABC Television company. Meanwhile, she continued her stringer activities as well as teaching English literature at the world-renowned Sorbonne, for students sitting the famously challenging examination "L'Aggregation..." Then, when it became evident that the UK would be a more suitable location for the writing of her TV series, she moved to Putney, near London. It was here that she met farmer, amateur botanist and Tory MP Sir Kenneth Carlisle, who later became her husband. She now lives on the ancient Suffolk estate of Wyken Hall, were she has innovatively planted a vineyard and over the years developed an international reputation for the production of high quality English wines which are also served in her vineyard restaurant, rurally designated The Leaping Hare.

However, Carla's writing activities continued. She has received critical acclaim as an American writer on English country life with her 2001 publication entitled South Facing Slope, based upon her weekly column in the British periodical "Country Life". Sybille Bedford (friend and biographer of Aldous Huxley) has described Carla's work as "...brilliant and original transatlantic interpretations...[that]...amuse, charm and instruct with their good feeling, good sense and...... very, very good writing."

Also, book reviewer and British ex-patriot Karen Boone (now with Amazon books) who just passed 'O' Level English (and is now living in San Francisco) says: I cannot believe I am typing a review, but this book certainly inspired me to it. I eventually picked up"South Facing Slope" under pressure from my mother. Despite children, dogs and horses, I did not put it down for two days. I left England for America nearly 20 years ago and reading this book transported me back to a British quality of life that I loved and had forgotten about. Carla Carlisle's interpretations of seasons, emotions, nitty gritty real life experiences, her honesty and her humour all enchanted me.

Carla Cooper Carlisle is evidently, a most gifted writer and she is a wife and mother. However, she is much, much more than any of these. She possesses a true sense of natural justice, she has what we British call a (some might say big) heart for the underdog, she has a deep desire to encourage those with whom she comes into contact... to develop, to optimize, to make the most of the gifts and skills that they have... to enhance their own well-being for themselves and for the benefit of the wider community in which they live.

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Pro Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Lady Carla Cooper Carlisle, BA, the award of an Honorary Fellowship of the University."