Katharine Jex-Blake  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Katharine Jex-Blake (18 November 1860 – 26 March 1951), was an English classical scholar, best-known for her translation of The Elder Pliny's Chapters on the History of Art.



Early life

Katharine Jex-Blake was born in 1860 at Rugby School, one of nine daughters and two sons of Thomas Jex-Blake (1832-1915), the school master and later head master at Rugby school and his wife Henrietta Cordery. Her aunt was Sophia Jex-Blake. She was educated with her sisters at Rugby School before reading classics at Girton College, Cambridge, 1879-1883.


She then taught for a year at Notting Hill and Bayswater High School, a school owed by the Girls' Public Day School Trust. In 1885 she returned to Girton as the Resident Classics lecturer, later becoming the Director of Studies in Classics from 1901– 1919; Vice-Mistress, 1903– 1916; and Mistress of the College,1916 – 1922. In 1896 she published a translation of Pliny the Elder's Chapters on the History of Art in collaboration with her friend Eugenie Sellers.

Her influence extended beyond Girton as some her students became the classics lecturers at Girton, Newnham College, Bedford College, Royal Holloway, Somerville College and Lady Margaret Hall in the 1920s.


Upon her retirement from Girton in 1922, Katharine Jex-Blake donated a sum for what became the Jex-Blake fellowship. She became a governor of the College and also sat on its Council. She was made an honorary fellow in 1932. From 1925-1937 she was an active member of the Council of her former employers, the Girls' Public Day School Trust and was later elected a vice-president of the Trust. She died at Hurstpierpoint, Sussex in 1951.

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