Joyce Reynolds

Dr Joyce Reynolds, Cambridge, 2016 (cropped).jpg
Reynolds in 2016
Joyce Maire Reynolds

(1918-12-18)18 December 1918
Highams Park, England
Died11 September 2022(2022-09-11) (aged 103)
Cambridge, England
AwardsFellow of the British Academy, 1982
Academic background
Alma materSomerville College, University of Oxford
Academic work
InstitutionsNewnham College, University of Cambridge
Notable studentsCharlotte Roueché, Mary Beard, Pat Easterling, M. M. McCabe
Notable worksChristian monuments of Cyrenaica, The Inscriptions of Roman Tripolitania, Aphrodisias and Rome.

Joyce Maire Reynolds FBA (18 December 1918 – 11 September 2022) was a British classicist and academic, specialising in Roman historical epigraphy. She was an honorary fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. She dedicated her life to the study and teaching of Classics.[1] Reynolds' most significant publications were texts from the city of Aphrodisias, including letters between Aphrodisian and Roman authorities.[2]

Early life and education

Joyce Reynolds was born in Highams Park, Greater London, on 18 December 1918.[3][4] Both her parents came from Walthamstow. Her father, William Howe Reynolds, was a civil servant and her mother, Nellie Farmer, a school teacher. Her mother taught her to read and write.[4] Joyce was educated at Walthamstow County Girls' School, and then St Paul's Girls School, where she won a scholarship. Her parents were anti-war, and banned Joyce from reading what they considered to be pro-war writers such as Rudyard Kipling.[4] Joyce did not excel at nor enjoy 'games' (Physical Education) at school.[4]

She studied Greats at Somerville College, Oxford, having been awarded an exhibition between 1937 and 1941. She graduated with a first-class degree in 1944. During the war, from 1941 to 1946, Joyce worked as a temporary civil servant, first as an Assistant Principal at the Board of Trade, later Principal.[5]


From 1951 to 1979, Reynolds was Director of Studies in Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, and from 1957 to 1983 she was lecturer in Classics at the University of Cambridge.[6] From 1983 to 1984 she was a Reader in the Epigraphy of the Roman World at the University of Cambridge and she remained an honorary fellow of Newnham College.[7] In 1982 she was elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy.[6]

Reynolds' students included Mary Beard, Pat Easterling, MM McCabe and Charlotte Roueché.[8]

In her nineties, Reynolds continued to work, playing a prominent role in the online publication of Inscriptions of Aphrodisias (available online), Roman Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. Although Reynolds no longer taught, she did not fully retire, and continued to produce academic research.[4] She died on 11 September 2022, aged 103.[3][9]


Reynolds was one of six British women born in 1918 or before featured in The Century Girls, a book written by Tessa Dunlop to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote in the United Kingdom, which occurred in 1918.[10]

In 2004, Reynolds was awarded the Gold Medal of the Society of Antiquaries for distinguished services to archaeology.[11]

In 2017, Reynolds was awarded the Kenyon Medal by the British Academy "in recognition of a lifetime's contribution to the research and study of Roman epigraphy".[12] She was the first woman awarded this medal.[13][14]

Reynolds received a Fellowship of Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1951. She was the oldest person to be awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from the University of Cambridge, on 20 June 2018.[15] She was also an honorary Fellow of Somerville College.[16] The Joyce Reynolds Award, a scholarship providing £10,000 towards the living costs of two Cambridge University classics undergraduates from under-represented backgrounds, was named after her. It was set up by Mary Beard, who was tutored by Reynolds.[17]

Selected publications


  1. ^ Beard, Mary (29 September 2013). "A Don's Life: The JoyceFest: celebrating Joyce Reynolds". Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  2. ^ Reynolds, Joyce. M (1982). Aphrodisias and Rome: documents from the excavation of the theatre at Aphrodisias conducted by Kenan T. Erim: together with some related texts. London: Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies.
  3. ^ a b Telegraph Obituaries (12 September 2022). "Joyce Reynolds, classicist who inspired Mary Beard and specialised in the study of ancient Roman inscriptions". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Dear Me! What Next?". Living Memory. BBC Radio 4. 11 June 2019. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  5. ^ "Newnham log, Newnham College Archive, Cambridge University". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Miss Joyce Reynolds". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Miss Joyce Reynolds". Faculty of Classics. University of Cambridge. 5 September 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  8. ^ "A century of excellence: classicist Joyce Reynolds receives an Honorary Doctorate 6 months before her 100th birthday – Newnham College". 19 June 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "A tribute to Joyce Reynolds FBA (1918–2022)". Newnham College. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  10. ^ "Book review: The Century Girls, by Tessa Dunlop". The Scotsman. 19 April 2018.
  11. ^ "About the Fellowship". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  12. ^ "From Wikipedia to Roman coins: British Academy recognises excellence in the humanities and social sciences". The British Academy. Retrieved 5 October 2017.
  13. ^ "Newnham classicist becomes first woman to win Kenyon Medal".
  14. ^ "Kenyon Medal awarded to Joyce Reynolds – Faculty of Classics". University of Cambridge.
  15. ^ "Cambridge awards honorary degree to 99-year old classics fellow".
  16. ^ "Emeritus and Honorary Fellows". Somerville College, Oxford. Retrieved 26 August 2018.
  17. ^ "Professor Mary Beard's 'retirement present' will fund Cambridge Classics students from under-represented backgrounds". University of Cambridge. 14 May 2021. Retrieved 17 May 2021.