Lancaster University awards Honorary Degrees
Historian and TV presenter Dr David Starkey has been awarded an Honorary Degree from Lancaster University. Dr Starkey, best known for his TV series The Six Wives Of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, was presented with his Doctor of Letters by HRH Princess Alexandra at the University’s Great Hall on July 14.
He was among four Honorary Degree recipients – the others were Lord Of The Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen; former Lancaster University student Dr Ahdaf Soueif, an author whose novel The Map Of Love was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction; and Professor Tim Berners-Lee who invented a hypertext programme that created the possibility of the World Wide Web.
Dr Starkey spoke of his delight at receiving an honorary degree from Lancaster University. “There is both personal and public pride. I am a local boy – I was born in Kendal and educated there. My father knew the first Vice-Chancellor of the University because they were fellow Quakers, and for me there is something very touching about a hero’s welcome for the local boy.
“Publicly, it’s an important recognition of what you done. I feel I have been honoured both because of what I have done and how I have done it. It makes you feel that perhaps you are beginning to achieve something. Within the academic world this sort of thing matters – and it matters to me.”
Dr Starkey, 59, is one of the most successful presenters on TV and his history series have achieved a wide public following – more people tuned into Elizabeth I than to Ally McBeal while The Six Wives Of Henry VIII was beaten in the ratings only by Big Brother. Before going into TV he was an academic for over 25 years, much of that time spent at the London School of Economics.
Dr Starkey said he takes great pride in his Lancashire roots. “We were a poor family in Kendal – we had no car and lived in a council house. I was a clever boy from a poor area and spent 18 years of my life plotting how to get out, but I have great pride in my roots – it’s something I have always been proud of.”