October 2015


Call me Steve: The extraordinary life of Stephanie Shirley


The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has published a fascinating account of Dame Stephanie 'Steve' Shirley's life and achievements. Dame Stephanie, a Foundation Fellow at Balliol, arrived in London in 1939 as an unaccompanied Jewish minor fleeing the Nazis. In an extraordinary life she has defied gender stereotypes, founded a pioneering all-female software firm and given more than £65 million to charity. 'If I say I'm going to talk about a great software entrepreneur named Steve Shirley, I imagine you will have in your mind a young man, probably American, most likely wearing a baseball cap and hoodie,' says Mark Dodgson. 'In fact, I'm going to be talking about an 81-year-old Dame of the British Empire, who created one of the first ever software companies... and has devoted her later life to giving away her considerable fortune.'

Denis Winston Healey


Balliol was saddened by the death on 3 October of Denis Winston Healey, Rt Hon Lord Healey, PC, CH, MBE, MA Oxf, Balliol 1936 and Honorary Fellow from 1979. Andrew Graham (Acting Master 1997–2001, Master 2001–2011) writes: ‘Denis Healey who so sadly died on 3 October was a giant of the British political landscape in the post-war period. Trenchant and unrestrained of language, independent of thought, ruthlessly cutting in criticism, especially of Thatcher (Attila the Hen) and of the far left (Toytown Trots), he was fearless under attack, whether from bullets on the beaches in Italy or from the baying left in a Labour Party conference. A man full of great personal warmth – though, to his cost, never a cultivator of supporters – he was undoubtedly the greatest Foreign Secretary we never had and a leader the Labour Party really ought to have had.' Read Dr Graham's full tribute here.

2015 Nobel Prize-winning research helped by Balliol academic


Congratulations to Dr David Wark (Tutorial Fellow 1992-1999, Supernumary Fellow), whose team at Oxford University have contributed to Nobel Prize-winning research. The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2015 has been awarded for the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass. Professor John Wheater, Head of the Department of Physics at Oxford University, says, 'Many congratulations to the Oxford Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) group, who made several seminal contributions to the SNO experiment. Oxford SNO has been led at various times by Steve Biller, Nick Jelley and David Wark; great credit is due to them, their post-docs and students, and the Workshops, for what has been achieved.'

Read the 2015 Annual Record online


The 2015 Annual Record is now available to read online. This year's edition features articles on Balliol's early printed books and the inception of the JCR Picture Fund, as well as news and notes from Old Members and updates from the College's students and Fellows.
Old Members can access the Record using the password Annualrecord_2015Balliol. Please contact Ginny Matthews if you have any questions or if you would like to access a copy of the Record suitable for the visually impaired. 
Erratum: The poem ‘Balliol Gaudy 2015’ on page 76 is by Sir Michael Burton (1965) and Trevor Milne-Day (1966). We apologise for omitting to credit Trevor Milne-Day.


Help for the heart from Balliol Old Member

Dr Rebecca Burton (2005) is the lead author of a paper published in Nature Phototonics, in which she and her team of researchers at Oxford and Stony Brook universities describe their discovery of a method to control the electrical waves that regulate the heartbeat. If the electrical signals that control the rhythm of the heart, known as excitation waves, slow down, the effect can be fatal, and although there are methods of keeping them in check, such as pacemakers, these are relatively crude. Borrowing from the developing field of optogenetics, the research team has found a way of controlling the waves much more precisely by using light, as described in more detail here.
AUDIO: Boyer Lectures available online


The 2015 Boyer Lectures given by Dr Michael Fullilove (1997), Executive Director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy, are now available online as audio recordings and transcripts. Dr Fullilove’s subject was ‘Australia’s place in the world’. The first lecture was given overseas for the first time in the 60-year history of the Boyer Lectures, at Peking University in Beijing. The lectures will be published as a book by Penguin in December.


Balliol mother breaks buggy marathon record


Congratulations to Dr Jessica Bruce (2002, née Leitch), who has broken the world record for the fastest marathon while pushing a buggy. Dr Bruce completed the Abingdon Marathon on 18 October with her seven-month-old son Daniel in a pushchair in 3 hours, 17 minutes and 52 seconds, as reported on BBC News. In a video interview with BBC South Today, Dr Bruce describes how, having entered the marathon shortly after giving birth, she decided 'I'm probably not going to run as fast as I have done, so let's set up a new challenge!'

JCR's Grayson Perry engraving unveiled


A Map of Days, an engraving by Grayson Perry, has been purchased by the JCR Picture Fund and hung in the Buttery. Will Aitchison, one of the JCR Picture Fund Officers, describes the work: ‘In this self-portrait, the artist depicts himself as though he were a city map. Each component of the city and surrounding land, whether street, building or river, is named according to an emotion or ideological stance.’ Will adds, ‘I feel that Map of Days suits the student environment well, given that its theme – the exploration of the self – is one that everyone can associate with.’ The JCR Picture Fund was set up by Balliol students in 1950 - read more about the Fund in this year's Annual Record.

Jingle and mingle at the Barbican on 16 November


Return to one of Balliol’s favourite London venues, the Barbican Centre, on Monday 16 November for Balliol’s Young Alumni Winter Party. The Garden Terrace is reserved exclusively for Young Alumni (2002 – 2013) and the £25 ticket includes canapes, drinks, and entry to a private viewing of the Eames exhibition. From personal letters, photographs, drawings and artwork, to their products, models, multi-media installations and furniture, The World of Charles and Ray Eames includes not only the designs for which they are best known, but provides an insight into their lives. 
This evening has kindly been made possible by Sir Nicholas Kenyon (1969). Help us celebrate the start of the festive season - book online now!

SAVE THE DATE: Holywell Manor Festival - Saturday 23 April 2016


In April 2013, the Balliol MCR hosted the Holywell Manor Festival as part of the College’s 750th Anniversary celebrations. The Festival aimed to celebrate the history and ethos of the College – its culture of academic excellence and global enrichment – by featuring academic talks, music and performing arts. In light of the overwhelming success of the event, the MCR will be hosting another Holywell Manor Festival on Saturday 23 April 2016, bringing together past and present members of the College in an exchange of ideas and experiences that reflects the rich intellectual culture and ethos of social responsibility that characterises the Balliol community. The Festival will be a day-long event with a range of talks by high-profile speakers, musical performances, an archival exhibition, champagne reception and dinner in Hall. Both graduate and undergraduate alumni are warmly welcomed. Further details and invitations to follow soon.




If you would like us to mention in this section any significant work published this year or last, please contact Josie Turner.

Dr Andrew Scull's (1966) Madness in Civilization: A Cultural History of Insanity from the Bible to Freud and from the Madhouse to Modern Medicine traces the long and complex history of mental disturbance. Taking readers from antiquity to today, the book paints a vivid and often harrowing portrait of the different ways that cultures around the world have interpreted and responded to the seemingly irrational, psychotic, and insane.
Professor Anthony Ferner (1968)
has released Winegarden, his debut novella. it tells the story of Jacob Winegarden, an agnostic Jewish professor of theoretical physics, who is a specialist in thought experiments. Beneath all the wit, physics and metaphysics of his working life is a personal story of love and grief across a lifetime.
Professor Richard Susskind (1983) and Daniel Susskind (2006)
have published a book together. In The Future of the Professions: How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts, this Balliol father and son predict the decline of today's professions and describe the people and systems that will replace them.
Alastair Bellany (1986) has published The Murder of King James I, a study of the making, political meaning and revolutionary afterlives of the allegation that King James VI and I had been poisoned by his court favourite.
Jane-Frances Kelly (1989) has published City Limits: Why Australia's cities are broken and how we can fix them. A higher proportion of Australians live in cities than almost any other country, and most of the country's national wealth is generated in them, but its cities are no longer keeping up with changes in the Australian economy and way of life. The book uses stories and case studies to show how individuals, families and businesses experience city life today.
Dr Hayley Hooper (2008) has published the edited volume Parliaments and Human Rights: Redressing the Democratic Deficit. This volume of essays considers how parliaments have sought to discharge their responsibility to protect human rights.


  • Young Alumni Winter Party - 16 November at the Barbican. For Balliol Members who matriculated between 2002 - 2013. Book online here.
  • The Usborne Dinner - 19 November. Invitations have now been sent, and invitees can book online here.
  • Balliol Medical Society Annual Seminar and Dinner - 21 November. Book online here.
  • Pathfinders Anniversary Dinner - 27 November. By invitation to former Coolidge and William Westerman Pathfinders. Invitees can book online here.
  • Balliol at the Varsity Matches - 10 December.
  • Intercollegiate Golf Tournament - 15 April 2016 at Frilford Heath Golf Club. Those interested should email Chris Jelley (1962).


  • Drinks Reception at The Royal Society of Edinburgh - 22 January 2016. Invitations and further details will be sent soon. Our warmest thanks to Kenneth Greig (1978) for making this event possible.
  • Greville Smith Society Lunch - 12 March. Invitations to be sent in November.
  • Gaudy for the years 2000 – 2002 - 19 March 2016
  • Gaudy for the years 1978 – 1980 - 25 June 2016
  • Holywell Manor Festival - 23 April 2016. See more information.
  • Master's Seminar in Rome, 'Britain and Ireland in Europe' - 17 May 2016. More details will be available soon.


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