Professor Mary Hesse's legacy to fund Arts & Humanities PhD students

by Fiona Gilsenan

Mary Hesse, one of our first Fellows when the College was founded in 1965, generously remembered Wolfson in her Will by leaving a significant legacy to Wolfson.

Mary Hesse by Mennin - unfinished portrait

It was recently decided that this generous gift will support Arts and Humanities PhD students in perpetuity from next academic year onwards.

Mary was a hugely influential figure in History and Philosophy of Science, noted not only for her academic research, but also for her inspirational work as a teacher and lecturer; she was a trailblazing scientist during an age when few women worked in this field. She first studied at Imperial College London then at University College London, receiving her PhD for a thesis on Electron Microscopy in 1948. She lectured in Mathematics at Royal Holloway College from 1947 to 1951 and at the University of Leeds from 1951 to 1955, then from 1955 to 1959 on History and Philosophy of Science at University College London. In 1960, Mary was appointed to a Lectureship in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, from 1968 to a Readership and from 1975 to a Professorship.

In 1965, she joined Wolfson (when it was still known as University College) which, as a College that offered men and women Fellowships on an equal basis, provided her with a College affiliation in Cambridge. Mary maintained a close engagement with Wolfson throughout her later life. In 1971, she was elected FBA and she was awarded a Cambridge Honorary ScD in 2002. Following her retirement in 1985, she reverted to student status at Madingley Hall and pursued her long-standing hobby, carrying out extensive research on local agricultural and landscape history.

Fellow, 1965–1992
Vice-President, 1976-1980
Emeritus Fellow, 1992–2016
Honorary Fellow, 1994-2016

Remembering Wolfson

  • Wolfson College has received £818,274 in legacy gifts since 1 January 2017
  • Leaving a legacy to Wolfson in your Will costs nothing in your lifetime
  • Leaving just 1% of your estate to Wolfson will allow you to establish a direct and enduring connection to the next generation of Wolfson students and ensure financial security for your own family

Our promises to you

  • We will always be happy to meet you in person to discuss your intentions and wishes, should you so wish
  • We will never put you under any pressure or ask for details about your Will, unless you wish to share them with us
  • We promise to answer any questions you may have about making a bequest swiftly and honestly and to use your gift prudently and effectively

For more information about leaving a legacy to Wolfson, please contact the Deputy Development Director, Geraldine Richard by email or phone +44 (0)1223 335912.