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Penson, Lillian Margery (1896–1963)

Penson, Lillian Margery (1896–1963)

British historian and educator. Name variations: Dame Lillian Penson. Born in 1896; died in 1963; attendedBirkbeck and University Colleges, London; awarded Ph.D. in 1921; named Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1951.

After earning a Ph.D. in history in 1921, Lillian Penson began her teaching career at Birkbeck College, where she had received her undergraduate degree. In 1930, she became a professor of modern history at Bedford College, then gradually worked her way up through the ranks. She served as dean of the faculty of arts (1938–44), chair of the Academic Council (1945), and, finally, vice chancellor (1948–51), the first woman to hold such a position. After retiring from Bedford, Penson served as acting chair of the U.S. Educational Commission in the United Kingdom (1953–54). Her writings include The Colonial Agents of the British West Indies (1924) and British Documents on the Origins of the War, 1898–1914 (11 volumes, 1926–38), which she produced with G.P. Gooch and H.W.V. Temperley. She also collaborated with Temperley on A Century of Diplomatic Blue Books (1938). Penson was awarded honorary degrees from Cambridge and Oxford universities and was an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons. She served as honorary vice-president of the Royal Historical Society from 1959 until her death in 1963.

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