Mary Beard is a professor of classics at the University of Cambridge and professor of ancient literature at the Royal Academy of Arts. She is the classics editor of the Times Literary Supplement, and author of the blog which appears in The Times as a regular column, "A Don's Life". Her frequent media appearances, TV presenting and sometimes-controversial public statements mean she is regularly described as "Britain's best-known classicist".
Opposed to the elite image of her subject, her crusading attitude saw her teaching in Jamie Oliver's Dream School on television in 2011. The only child of a father who was an "old-fashioned liberal architect" and a headmistress mother who was an enthusiastic reader, she attended a private girls' school and was inspired by trips to the British Museum. As a student she remained at Cambridge for her Ph.D. thesis entitled "The state religion in the late Roman Republic".
And returned as a Fellow of Newnham College becoming the only woman lecturer in the Classics faculty. It was during that same year that the book she co-wrote 'Rome in the Late Republic', with Michael Crawford, was published. In 2004 Mary Beard was elected Visiting Sather Professor of Classical Literature for 20082009 at the University of California, Berkeley, where she has delivered a series of lectures on "Roman Laughter".