Jane Ridley

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Jane Ridley
Born (1953-05-15) 15 May 1953 (age 65)
Northumberland, England
Education Cranborne Chase School, Wiltshire
Alma mater St Hugh's College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford
OccupationProfessor of modern history, biographer, author
Employer University of Buckingham

Jane Ridley (born 15 May 1953) is an English historian, biographer, author and broadcaster, and Professor of Modern History at the University of Buckingham.

University of Buckingham

The University of Buckingham (UB) is a non-profit, private university in the UK and the oldest of the country's five private universities. It is located in Buckingham, England, and was founded as the University College at Buckingham (UCB) in 1973, admitting its first students in 1976. It was granted university status by royal charter in 1983. Buckingham offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctoral degrees through five "schools" of study.


Ridley won the Duff Cooper Prize in 2002 for The Architect and his Wife, a biography of her great-grandfather Edwin Lutyens.

The Duff Cooper Prize is a literary prize awarded annually for the best work of history, biography, political science or poetry, published in English or French. The prize was established in honour of Duff Cooper, a British diplomat, Cabinet member and author. The prize was first awarded in 1956 to Alan Moorehead for his Gallipoli. At present, the winner receives a first edition copy of Duff Cooper's autobiography Old Men Forget and a cheque for £5,000.

Edwin Lutyens British architect

Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens, was an English architect known for imaginatively adapting traditional architectural styles to the requirements of his era. He designed many English country houses, war memorials and public buildings. In his biography, the writer Christopher Hussey wrote, "In his lifetime (Lutyens) was widely held to be our greatest architect since Wren if not, as many maintained, his superior". The architectural historian Gavin Stamp described him as "surely the greatest British architect of the twentieth century".

Early life

Born in Northumberland in the north east of England on 15 May 1953, Ridley is the eldest daughter of the former Conservative Cabinet minister Nicholas Ridley (1929–1993) and a granddaughter of The 3rd Viscount Ridley, by his marriage to Ursula Lutyens. Her father married Clayre Campbell (1927–2015), a daughter of Alistair, 4th Baron Stratheden and Campbell. They had three daughters, Jane (1953), Susanna (1955), and Jessica (1957), and were divorced in 1974. [1] Her great-grandmother Lady Emily Bulwer-Lytton (1874–1964), who dismayed her parents by marrying the architect Lutyens, was a daughter of the Earl of Lytton, Viceroy of India in the 1870s. [2] His parents were the novelists Edward and Rosina Bulwer Lytton. Her cousins include the economist Sir Adam Ridley. [3]

Northumberland County of England

Northumberland is a county in North East England. The northernmost county of England, it borders Cumbria to the west, County Durham and Tyne and Wear to the south and the Scottish Borders to the north. To the east is the North Sea coastline with a 64 miles (103 km) path. The county town is Alnwick, although the County council is based in Morpeth.

Conservative Party (UK) Political party in the United Kingdom

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, and also has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors.

Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale British politician

Nicholas Ridley, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale, was a British Conservative politician and government minister.

Ridley was educated at Cranborne Chase School, an independent boarding school for girls, since closed, then occupying New Wardour Castle, near the village of Tisbury in Wiltshire, [4] and later at St Hugh's College, Oxford, as an Exhibitioner in History. She took a first class honours degree in 1974, then was a research student at Nuffield College until 1978, graduating D. Phil. in 1985 with a thesis entitled Leadership and Management in the Conservative Party in Parliament 1906–1914. [5]

Cranborne Chase School

Cranborne Chase School was an independent boarding school for girls, originally opened in 1946 at Crichel House in the village of Moor Crichel in Dorset. In 1961, the school moved to New Wardour Castle near Tisbury in Wiltshire, and extensively renovated the building, which had fallen into a severe state of disrepair.

Boarding school School where some or all pupils live-in

A boarding school provides education for pupils who live on the premises, as opposed to a day school. The word "boarding" is used in the sense of "room and board", i.e. lodging and meals. As they have existed for many centuries, and now extend across many countries, their function and ethos varies greatly. Traditionally, pupils stayed at the school for the length of the term; some schools facilitate returning home every weekend, and some welcome day pupils. Some are for either boys or girls while others are co-educational.

New Wardour Castle Grade I listed castle in Tisbury, United Kingdom

New Wardour Castle is an English country house at Wardour, near Tisbury in Wiltshire, built for the Arundell family. The house is of a Palladian style, designed by the architect James Paine, with additions by Giacomo Quarenghi, who was a principal architect of the Imperial Russian capital city Saint Petersburg.

Academic career and work

In 1979, Ridley was appointed a lecturer in history at the University of Buckingham, where she was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1994, to Reader in 2002, to Senior Tutor responsible for student discipline the next year, and finally to Professor in 2007. At Buckingham she continues to serve as Senior Tutor and to teach history and has been in charge of the university's Master of Arts course in biography since establishing it in 1996. [5] This was the first such postgraduate course. [6]

Ridley's first book was The Letters of Edwin Lutyens (1985), a collection of her great-grandfather's letters, edited jointly with her mother, Clayre Percy. [7] She combined social history with her sport of fox hunting to produce Fox hunting: a history (1990), which begins with the words "Fox hunting isn't strictly necessary." [8]

Social history, often called the new social history, is a field of history that looks at the lived experience of the past. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments in Britain, Canada, France, Germany, and the United States. In the two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%. In the history departments of British and Irish universities in 2014, of the 3410 faculty members reporting, 878 (26%) identified themselves with social history while political history came next with 841 (25%).

Fox hunting dog sport, hunting

Fox hunting is an activity involving the tracking, chase and, if caught, the killing of a fox, traditionally a red fox, by trained foxhounds or other scent hounds, and a group of unarmed followers led by a "master of foxhounds", who follow the hounds on foot or on horseback.

In 1995, Ridley's The Young Disraeli was published, dealing with Benjamin Disraeli's early years. She disputes that he should be considered the father of one-nation conservatism, writing that "Disraeli didn't use the expression and nor did he want to create a classless society... The legend of Disraeli was created largely by the Conservative party, which needed a hero on whom to pin its ideas about making the party electable in a democracy." [9]

Ridley's biography of Lutyens, The Architect and his Wife, won the Duff Cooper Prize for 2002. [10]

In 2008, Ridley was given a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to work on her biography of King Edward VII, [5] and this was finally published as Bertie: A Life of Edward VII in 2012. In reviewing the work for The Spectator , A. N. Wilson called it "profoundly learned and a cracking good read" and gave his opinion that "After this irreverent new life of Edward VII, royal biography will never be the same again." [11]

Personal life

In 1986, Ridley married Stephen Francis Thomas, a writer, the younger son of Sir William James Cooper Thomas, 2nd Baronet, by his marriage to Freida Dunbar Whyte. They have two sons, Toby (born 1988) and Humphrey (born 1991). [12]

Ridley is a member of the committee of the London Library and lives in Dorset Square, Marylebone. [13]

Major publications


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  1. Patrick Cosgrave, 'Ridley, Nicholas, Baron Ridley of Liddesdale (1929–1993)', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004); online edition, accessed 6 March 2014 (subscription site)
  2. Michael Barker, Sir Edwin Lutyens (2005), pp. 12–13
  3. L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884–1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages with Genealogies and Arms (London: Heraldry Today, 1972), p. 16
  4. Cranborne Chase School Register, 1967 (Cranborne Chase School, Autumn 1967)
  5. 1 2 3 Professor Jane Ridley at buckingham.ac.uk, accessed 6 March 2014
  6. Sally Cline, Carole Angier, Life Writing: A Writers' and Artists' Companion (2013), p. xv
  7. Andrew Hopkins, Gavin Stamp, Lutyens Abroad: The Work of Sir Edwin Lutyens Outside the British Isles (The British Academy, 2002, ISBN   0904152375), p. 183: "Jane Ridley is Senior Lecturer in history at Buckingham University and a great-granddaughter of Lutyens. She published The Letters of Edwin Lutyens (1985), which she co-edited with her mother Clayre Percy..."
  8. Andrew Linzey, Why Animal Suffering Matters: Philosophy, Theology, and Practical Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN   0195379772), p. 94: "Jane Ridley, herself a hunter, in her notable social history titled Fox Hunting, begins her first page with the words "Fox hunting isn't strictly necessary."
  9. Debunking the Dizzy legend in The Tablet dated 17 August 2013, p. 19, online at thetablet.co.uk, accessed 7 March 2014
  10. 1 2 Past Winners at theduffcooperprize.org, accessed 6 March 2014
  11. A. N. Wilson, Bertie: A Life of Edward VII, by Jane Ridley dated 18 August 2012 at spectator.co.uk, accessed 7 March 2012
  12. Jane Ridley at ThePeerage.com, which cites Charles Mosley, ed., Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, vol. 3 (2003), p. 3,883; accessed 9 March 2014
  13. Ridley, Jane 1953– at encyclopedia.com, accessed 6 March 2014