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Bill Bryson receives honorary doctorate

Posted on 14/11/2012

The author Bill Bryson was one of four distinguished recipients to be awarded an honorary doctorate of King’s College London at the College’s 2012 Honorary Degree Ceremony, held on 13 November in the Chapel at King’s Strand Campus. The Chairman of Council, the Marquess of Douro, and the Principal, Professor Sir Richard Trainor, conferred honorary doctorates of King’s College London on four recipients who have made outstanding contributions to their field, representing a broad range of international distinction. The new honorary doctors are:

Bill Bryson OBE: the UK’s highest-selling author of non-fiction, acclaimed as a science communicator, historian and man of letters. His unique contributions to British life include those as a Commissioner for English Heritage and as President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Professor Christopher Dobson FRS: the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Chemical and Structural Biology at the University of Cambridge and Master of St John’s College. He has demonstrated the power of chemistry to understand protein misfolding disorders, including neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and provided new insights into the evolutionary constraints upon the chemistry of life.

The Right Honourable The Lord Judge: Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Head of the Judiciary and President of the Courts of England and Wales. His judgments over many areas of the law have been universally admired. He is a Privy Councillor and was created Baron Judge of Draycote in Warwickshire in 2008.

Professor Tan Chorh Chuan: a distinguished renal physician, President of the National University of Singapore and Chairman of the Board of the National University Health System. As Director of Medical Services of the Singapore Ministry of Health until 2004 he led the successful response to the SARS epidemic.

In responding on behalf of the honorary graduates, Bill Bryson thanked King’s for the ‘very great honour’ conferred on him and his fellow honorary doctors and praised the ‘instinctive’ elegance with which British universities conducted such ceremonies. Pointing out the huge discrepancy in endowment between universities in his native USA, and those in the UK, he praised British universities for their world-class status and achievements, describing them as ‘possibly the most outstanding thing in Britain’ and citing them as one of the reasons that he and his family chose to live in the UK.

Since 2008, King’s College London has awarded its own honorary degrees under degree-awarding powers granted by the Privy Council. Previously, the College awarded honorary degrees of the University of London, of which King’s remains a member.


Picture: The new honorary doctors with Principal Professor Sir Richard Trainor and The Chairman of Council, the Marquess of Douro.

From left-to-right: Professor Christopher Dobson FRS; The Right Honourable The Lord Judge; The Chairman of Council, the Marquess of Douro; Principal Professor Sir Richard Trainor; Bill Bryson OBE and Professor Tan Chorh Chuan.

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