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Catz alumna Jeanette Winterson receives honorary degree

In a ceremony today at the University of Oxford’s Sheldonian Theatre, Catz alumna Jeanette Winterson CBE received an honorary degree from the University.

Winterson has been recognised as Doctor of Letters for her work as an internationally best-selling author and public figure. Her first novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit – which she wrote shortly after leaving Catz – won her the Whitbread First Novel Award.

Winterson has also been recognised with a BAFTA and was longlisted for the 2019 Booker Prize for her latest novel, Frankisstein: A Love Story.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the University, ‘to recognise conspicuous distinction in contributions to academic inquiry and society, whether nationally or internationally, and to the life of the University.’

An extract from the oration, read at the ceremony before she was formally given her honorary degree, stated:

In reading her highly crafted books we find for ourselves that place that she wants to create – a place outside the confines of our daily lives. Oxford was for her younger self a place not only full of books but one where, when someone knocks on the door, you need not hide your book under the pillow. Welcoming her back here, and honouring her, may we tell her that it is still such a place, where we freely read, write, speak, and listen?

Winterson received her degree in the annual Encaenia ceremony alongside five other women. All honorary degree recipients this year were women, in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the first female graduates at Oxford, in 1920. The ceremony was delayed by a year due to the pandemic.

The other recipients alongside Winterson at the ceremony were: Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Professor Linda Colley CBE, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Professor Anna Deavere Smith and Baroness Ruth Lister CBE.

Read more about all of the recipients on the University’s webpages.

Image (left to right): Professor Anna Deavere Smith, Baroness Ruth Lister CBE, Professor Linda Colley CBE, Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, Professor Dame Sally Davies, Jeanette Winterson CBE. Reproduced courtesy of the University of Oxford.

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