Beard, Mary 1955-

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Beard, Mary 1955-


Born January 1, 1955, in Much Wenlock, England; daughter of Roy Whitbread (an architect) and Joyce Emily (a teacher) Beard; married Robin Sinclair Cormack (a university teacher), September 27, 1985; children: Zoe Troy, Raphael Christian. Education: Newnham College, Cambridge, B.A., 1977, Ph.D., 1981. Politics: Socialist.


Office—Newnham College, Cambridge, CB3 9DF, England. E-mail—[email protected]. uk.


Kings College, London, England, lecturer in classics, 1979-83; Newnham College, Cambridge, lecturer, 1984-99, reader, began 1999, became professor of classics. Curator, with others, of the exhibition "From Ancient Art to Post-Impressionism," Royal Academy, London.


(With Michael Crawford), Rome in the Late Republic, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1985, 2nd edition, 1999.

The Good Working Mothers Guide, Duckworth (London, England), 1988.

(Editor, with J. Huskinson and J. Reynolds) Image and Mystery in the Roman World: Three Papers Given in Memory of Jocelyn Toynbee, A. Sutton (Gloucester, England), 1988.

(Editor, with John North) Pagan Priests: Religion and Power in the Ancient World, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1990.

(With John Henderson) Classics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1995, 2nd edition, 2000.

(With John North and Simon Price), Religions of Rome, two volumes, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

The Invention of Jane Harrison, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000.

(With John Henderson) Classical Art: From Greece to Rome, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2001.

The Parthenon, Profile (London, England), 2002, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

(With Keith Hopkins) The Colosseum, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

Editor for classics, Times Literary Supplement. Contributor of reviews to periodicals, including Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books; contributor of articles to journals.


Mary Beard is a British scholar who studies ancient Greece and Rome. Although many of her works are for a more academic audience, she has also written books for the general public, including The Parthenon and The Colosseum. Each of these volumes contains a brief overview of the histories of these famous buildings and of their roles in Greek and Roman society, respectively. According to a Kirkus Reviews contributor, The Colosseum "does well what all such summary works should do: tell a compelling story, correct historical errors and common misconceptions, [and] animate readers to pursue the subject further." As the books prove, Beard had many such errors and misconceptions to correct about these two structures. In The Colosseum, she and coauthor Keith Hopkins show that the stories about Christians being fed to lions in the Colosseum are not supported by contemporaneous evidence and that the ancient Romans who used the building called it the Amphitheater, not the Colosseum. Beard performs a similar deconstruction on the Parthenon, revealing that the modern Parthenon that most readers know is actually a reconstruction—a horribly inaccurate one—done in the 1920s. Both volumes were generally praised by critics. George Cohen concluded in Booklist that The Colosseum is "a fascinating account for the Rome-bound traveler as well as the fan of European history," while Atlantic Monthly contributor Benjamin Schwarz deemed The Parthenon "wry and imaginative."



American Historical Review, February, 1987, Bruce W. Frier, review of Rome in the Late Republic, pp. 109-110.

Atlantic Monthly, April, 2003, Benjamin Schwarz, review of The Parthenon, p. 92.

Booklist, November 1, 1995, Gilbert Taylor, review of Classics: A Very Short Introduction, p. 440; October 1, 2005, George Cohen, review of The Colosseum, p. 18.

Classical Journal, February-March, 2000, Roger Beck, review of Religions of Rome, pp. 279-282.

Economist, September 16, 2000, "Archaeology and the Classical World—The Rite Stuff," p. 94, and review of The Invention of Jane Harrison, p. 142.

Greece & Rome, April, 1991, P. Walcot, review of Pagan Priests, p. 119.

Journal of Religion, October, 2000, King Charles, review of Religions of Rome, p. 712.

Library Journal, September 15, 2000, Diane Gardner Premo, review of The Invention of Jane Harrison, p. 85.

Times Literary Supplement, May 11, 1990, Simon Price, review of Pagan Priests, p. 508; December 22, 1995, John Godwin, review of Classics, p. 23; April 2, 1999, Henry Chadwick, review of Religions of Rome, pp. 44-45; June 30, 2000, Elizabeth Lowry, review of The Invention of Jane Harrison, p. 12.