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Germaine Greer

Germain Greer

Areas of Interest

Media, Campaigner, Literature

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of Letters, 2003


Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1939, Germaine Greer is a writer, broadcaster and feminist icon. In 1998 she was appointed Professor of English and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick (now retired). She is a Bye-Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge. She studied English and French at Melbourne University then gained an MA in Romantic Poetry from Sydney. She moved to the UK in 1964 and attended Newnham College, Cambridge, gaining her PhD in 1967 with a thesis on Shakespeare's early comedies. She then worked as a lecturer at Warwick from 1968 to 1973, during which time she published her first, and most famous work, The Female Eunuch (1970). Her other books include The Whole Woman (1999), The Beautiful Boy (2003) and The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work (2001). She is perhaps best known for her views on women's social and sexual status within society, and her outspoken and sometimes confrontational style have gained her both great respect and a certain notoriety.

In 2003 Germaine Greer was made Honorary Doctor of Letters.


"The Senate of Anglia Polytechnic University has great pleasure in recommending the award of an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree to Prof Germaine Greer, BA, MA, PhD, a household word in the field of feminism, international academic, global media personality as broadcaster, journalist, columnist, reviewer and prodigious author, founding her own publishing company in 1998, Stump Cross Books, based near Saffron Walden in Essex.

Germaine Greer attended school at the Star of the Sea Convent in Victoria, Australia and went up to Melbourne University where she obtained a BA in English and French Language and Literature. She then went on to Sydney University where she gained a First Class MA, later completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge (England) with a thesis on Shakespeare's Early Comedies. 

The start of her academic career was in 1963, with her appointment as Senior Tutor in English at Sydney University. She then moved to take up a position as Assistant Lecturer, later Lecturer, in English at Warwick (England). It was during this time that her first and possibly most famous book to date, The Female Eunuch, was published in 1970. 

During 1973 -1978, Professor Greer had the opportunity to lecture publicly throughout North America with the American Program Bureau, about those areas which had made her newsworthy. Indeed it was after this, that she was invited to become Visiting Professor in the Graduate Faculty of Modern Letters, at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA, then becoming Professor of Modern Letters. During her time in Tulsa, she founded the Tulsa Centre for the Study of Women's Literature and in 1981 the journal, Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, which led to a second North American lecture tour (from 1980 -1983) to raise funds for the Tulsa Bursary and Fellowship Scheme.

In 1989, she moved back to the UK, to take up the post of "Special Lecturer and Unofficial Fellow" at Newnham College, in Cambridge, before assuming her position of Professor of English and Comparative Studies at Warwick, which University she had left thirty years before and deciding, finally, to leave Warwick at the end of last term.

Among Germaine Greer's books are Daddy We Hardly Knew You (1989) which won the J.R. Ackerly Prize and the Premio Internazionale Mondello and this year: The Boy - released on 13th October a history of how the boy is presented in art (2003) and Poems for Gardeners - an anthology of poetry due out in November (2003). 

Germaine Greer has also been the recipient of a number of other honours, including Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of Griffith in Queensland, Australia; York in Toronto, Canada and UMIST in Manchester, England, a Degree of Laws honoris causa from Melbourne University and an Honorary Degree from Essex University. 

Professor Greer is a phenomenon of our time, whose reputation in connection with ongoing sociological issues of women today, is world renowned in the mind of the average person. She also epitomizes the thesis that, perhaps the "greatness" of any writer is reflected in the quantity of words published about them, rather than how much they, personally, have written. For example, on the worldwide web, the major search engine Google lists nearly 25,000 entries and Yahoo nearly 20,000 entries for "Germaine Greer." However, few of these relate to her numerous books about women writers and painters, which are less well known, although they will have made a significant contribution to the last year's national Teaching Quality Assessment Exercise when the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at Warwick University was rated "excellent" and in the Research Assessment Exercise had a rating of 5*, the highest attainable. Also, in The Guardian's teaching quality table, in 2001, the English Department at Warwick was rated the best in Britain. 

It is for these reasons, therefore, that I invite you, Vice-Chancellor, to confer on Prof Germaine Greer, BA, MA, PhD, an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree of this University."