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Oldest Alumni Lesley Lewis passes away at age 100

09 February 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Janine Catalano
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We are sad to report that our oldest alumni, Mrs Lesley Lewis FSA, passed away on 29 January 2010 at the age of 100.
Mrs Lewis was one of the original four students to enroll at The Courtauld in 1932, after convincing her father to let her study the prerequisites of Latin and mathematics. Her MA dissertation, conducted under the supervision of James Byam Shaw, was entitled ‘The Rise of Neo-Classic Architecture in England’. Mrs Lewis later went on to publish works on a wide range of subjects, including Connoisseurs and Secret Agents (1961) about the covert activities in Rome between Cardinal Alessandro Albani and the antiquarian collector and spy Philip von Stosch. Her rich life  included service on the nightly fire watch in London during World War II, time spent living in the Sudan with her late husband, and—after becoming a fully qualified barrister—enjoyed dinners at Lincoln’s Inn as one of its first female members. Mrs Lewis’s tenacity and determination were evidenced by her response to her first job offer, after leaving The Courtauld in 1937, as the Registrar of City and Guilds College in Kennington: when they tried to reduce the weekly salary from £5 to £4 pounds because she was a woman, she refused to accept the job at the lower rate, and in the end the college capitulated and employed her with full pay.
Throughout the years, Mrs Lewis was in frequent contact with The Courtauld’s staff and students and continued to be an ardent supporter of its efforts. Her letters are filled with poignant recollections and astute observations that attest to her significance as an embodiment of The Courtauld’s beginnings.

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