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History & today

Fellows of King's

The establishment of a fellowship at King’s

The proposal to establish a fellowship of King’s was first considered by the Council of King’s in 1847. The Reverend John Allen, a former chaplain of the College, was the first fellow of King’s. Initially the Council decreed that each fellow should pay two guineas for the privilege. The exaction of the fee was short-lived and ceased from 1850.

Early King’s fellows

From the beginning, a wide variety of people were elected as College fellows. Those elected between 1847 and 1863 included:

  • Alfred Barry, Principal of King’s 1868-83
  • James Edwin Thorold Rogers, former King’s student, Professor of Economics at King’s, later Liberal MP for Southwark and Bermondsey
  • John Simon, later Sir John, Professor of Surgery at King’s, first Medical Officer of Health for the City of London
  • the Honorable Edward Stanley, later Earl of Derby, Foreign Secretary under Disraeli
  • William Stebbing, for nearly 30 years Assistant Editor and Leader Writer of The Times
  • Robert Bentley Todd, founder of King’s College Hospital
  • Sir Herbert Benjamin Edwardes, army and political officer in India
  • William Burges, architect and designer who oversaw the Great Exhibition of 1851
  • Robert Swinhoe, diplomat and ornithologist.

The first King’s women fellows

Lilian Faithfull was one of the first women fellows in 1904. She was Vice-Principal of the Ladies’ Department of King’s 1894-1906 and then Principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College until 1922 and one of the country’s first women Justice of the Peace (JP).

Recent King’s fellows

The varied backgrounds and achievements of the early fellows established a precedent for the range of distinctions which have been recognised by the fellowship and honorary fellowship more recently. The list of recent fellows includes:

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir James Black, Professor Maurice Wilkins, Professor Peter Higgs and Professor Michael Levitt, Nobel Prize-winners
  • Lord Attenborough and Sir Richard Eyre, drama directors
  • Mario Vargas Llosa, Sir Arthur C Clarke, Sir Michael Morpurgo, Hugh Whitemore, Anita Brookner, Susan Howatch, Susan Hill and Hanif Kureishi, writers
  • Sir Michael Howard and Sir Max Hastings, military historians
  • Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Professor George Benjamin, composer
  • Jo Brand - comedian
  • Sir John Eliot Gardiner, conductor
  • Lord Sacks, former Chief Rabbi
  • Rory Bremner, satirist and King’s alumnus
  • Sir Robert Worcester, founder of MORI
  • Alex Beard, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House
  • Lord Hall of Birkenhead, Director-General of the BBC
  • Dame Katherine Grainger - Olympian

Complete listing of fellows and honorary fellows

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