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Biographical entry Penson, Dame Lillian Margery (1896 - 1963)

DBE; Hon FRCS 8 January 1959; BA London 1917; PhD 1921; Hon LLD Cambridge, Leeds, McGill, St Andrews, Southampton; Hon Dlitt Sheffield, Western Ontario; Hon Dlit Belfast.

17 April 1963


Professor of Modern History at Bedford College in the University of London from 1930, she was born on 18 July 1896, elder daughter of Arthur Smith Penson, and educated privately, at Birkbeck College and University College, London.

She remained attached to the University of London for the rest of her life, except for a brief interval between 1917 and 1919 when she worked as a civil servant for the Ministry of National Service and the War Trade Intelligence Department. A historian of note, her particular interest was in the field of colonial history and research into the origins of war during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. As a member of the Senate and later as Vice-Chancellor she was influential as a sponsor of the development of higher education in the underdeveloped countries.

Dame Lillian was of the greatest assistance to the College, as in 1952 she consented to act as chairman of the finance committee of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, having in 1951 become a member of its committee of management, and she played a very important part in the very delicate negotiations between the College and the University of London in the setting up of the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences as a constituent part of the Postgraduate Medical Federation. As a result, she came to have a number of friends within the College who regarded her with admiration and affection.

She died after a long and trying illness on 17 April 1963.

Sources used to compile this entry: [The Times 20 April 1963 p 12 a with portrait; Ann Roy Coll Surg Engl 1963, 33, 57-59 by Professor H J B Atkins, with portrait].

The Royal College of Surgeons of England