Saturday, January 03, 2009

Has anyone seen Dr Brown?

One of the often commented facts about Gordon Brown is that he is the first British Prime Minister to have a PhD. As it's in History this is something that historians can take a special pride in regardless of our politics.

But has anyone ever seen an image of Brown in his doctoral robes? Or even in whatever robes of office he wore when he was the Rector of the University of Edinburgh? Off hand I can't think of any and it's evaded others on a mailing list discussing academic dress. Does anyone know of one?

In the meantime we'll have to make do with a picture from one of his honorary degree ceremonies. Here, courtesy of Daylife, is Brown receiving a Doctor of Letters last January from the University of Delhi:

(Original Photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images)

Academic dress can be fascinating in its own right and can throw some interesting examples up, though unfortunately for me the worst degree hoods in the UK are widely considered to be in the Academic dress of the University of Kent. I don't know of anyone, whether student, alumnus or just interested, who has anything good to say about those monstrosities. Hopefully one day the university will switch to a more traditional design for them.

For those interest in more there is the Burgon Society, founded to promote the study of academical dress.

1 comment:

Man in a Shed said...

There used to be a picture of him with "Brown's sugars" from his Edinburgh Uni days on the BBC web site, but it has strangely disappeared.

Of course he may have received his PhD in absentia. What would be yet more telling would be to read it and also the student newspaper reporting of his time as rector of Edinburgh Uni. ( The British Library should have a copy if anyone feels brave enough. )


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