Mary Archer

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Mary Archer

Mary Doreen Weeden

(1944-12-22) 22 December 1944 (age 74)
Epsom, Surrey, England, UK
EducationCheltenham Ladies' College
Alma mater
Spouse(s)Jeffrey Archer (m. 1966)
Scientific career
Fieldssolar power conversion
Doctoral studentsJoanna Bauldreay

Dame Mary Doreen Archer, DBE (née Weeden; born 22 December 1944),[1] commonly known as Mary Archer, is a British scientist specialising in solar power conversion.

Early life and education[edit]

Mary Weeden was born in Epsom, Surrey in December 1944, she was the younger daughter of Harold N. Weeden, a chartered accountant,[2] and Doreen Cox, who married in 1937,[3] she attended Cheltenham Ladies' College, before going on to study chemistry at St Anne's College, Oxford, where she lived next door to Edwina Currie, Ann Widdecombe, and Gyles Brandreth's wife Michèle Brown.[4] She went on to study physical chemistry at Imperial College London.[5]


After a brief period teaching at Oxford University,[1] Mary Weeden worked as a scientific researcher under Sir George Porter at the Royal Institution in London, it was during this period that she became interested in photoelectrochemistry, and she has both written and lectured extensively on the subject. In the mid-1970s, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the International Solar Energy Society.[2] Between 1976-86, she was a lecturer in Chemistry at Newnham and Trinity colleges of the University of Cambridge.[6] From 1984-91, she was a director of the Fitzwilliam Museum Trust in Cambridge, she was a non-executive director of Mid Anglia Radio plc between 1988 and 1995.[1] In 1988, Mary Archer joined the Council of Lloyds Insurance Company, becoming chair of the Lloyds Hardship Committee the following year,[2] she had been a Lloyds 'Name' since 1977.[7]

From 1988 to 2000, she was chairman of the National Energy Foundation, which promotes improving the use of energy in buildings, she later became its president[8] and is currently its patron[9] She is also president of the UK Solar Energy Society (UK-ISES), she is a Companion of the Energy Institute and was awarded the Institute's Melchett Medal in 2002.[6]

She has written and contributed to various volumes of work concerning solar energy, including Photochemical & Photoelectrochemical Approaches to Solar Energy Conversion, which took 15 years to write, she co-edited Clean Electricity from Photovoltaics (2001); Molecular to Global Photosynthesis (2004); The 1702 Chair of Chemistry at Cambridge: Transformation and Change (2005) and Nanostructured and Photoelectrochemical Systems for Solar Photon Conversion (2008).[6]

In 1994, Lady Archer was a non-executive director of Anglia Television at a time when it was the target of a takeover bid. Following reports from the London Stock Exchange, the Department of Trade and Industry appointed inspectors on 8 February 1994 to investigate possible insider dealing contraventions by certain individuals, including her husband. No charges were brought.[10]

She was chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (incorporating Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals) for ten years until 2012, having previously been a non-executive director (1993–99), and vice-chairman (1999-2002) of Addenbrooke's Hospital NHS Trust.[1][11] Between 2005 and 2008, she led a pioneer NHS-funded initiative to create patient decision aids for patients with localised prostate cancer (or BPH). In 2007 she was awarded the Eva Philbin Award of the Institute of Chemistry of Ireland,[6] she was founder director of Cambridge University Health Partners, 2009–2012,[12] and was deputy chairman of ACT (Addenbrooke's Charitable Trust) from 1997-2015.[1] She is currently leading a group to create an online PDA and information/advice for bladder cancer patients in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, and across the Anglia Cancer Network.[13]


Mary Archer was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to the National Health Service.[14]

In December 2013, a new link road was opened in Cambridge connecting the Addenbrooke’s Road to the southern side of the hospital opposite the Rosie extension; this road was named Dame Mary Archer Way in recognition of the achievements of the former chairman.[15]

Personal life[edit]


She married Jeffrey Archer in July 1966, having met him at Oxford University, where he had been studying for a Diploma in Education,[16] she has described Jeffrey as being "fun, ebullient ... [h]e was older than my contemporaries and I liked that. He did things I'd never sort of done."[17] They have two children: William Archer (born 1972), a theatre producer,[18] and James Archer (born 1974), a financial advisor and businessman.

The Archers live in the Old Vicarage, Grantchester, near Cambridge.[19]

In the summer of 1974, the Archers were struck by a financial crisis when Jeffrey lost over £400,000 in a bad investment. Faced with the threat of bankruptcy, the Archers were forced to move out of their large house in The Boltons.[20] Mary Archer took up a teaching post at Cambridge University which, together with her husband's eventual success as a novelist, saved them from financial ruin.[7]

In 1987 she gave evidence at the High Court in a libel case brought by her husband against the Daily Star newspaper, which claimed Jeffrey had slept with a prostitute.[21] In 2001, when Jeffrey Archer was accused of having committed perjury in the 1987 trial, she appeared at the Old Bailey to defend him.[22] Jeffrey Archer was subsequently convicted and imprisoned for perjury and perverting the course of justice;[23] the trial judge, Mr Justice Potts, questioned the veracity of Lady Archer's evidence, suggesting that she too had perjured herself.[16] However, no further action was taken.[24]

In 2003, she took her former personal assistant to court over an alleged breach of confidentiality. Lady Archer sought a permanent injunction against Williams, claiming she had stolen confidential documents about the family, and had planned to sell the information to the media.[25] Williams had previously taken Lady Archer to an industrial tribunal over claims of unfair dismissal.[26][27]

Between 1991 and 1999 she sat on the council of Cheltenham Ladies' College,[1] she sings first alto and in 1988 released a CD of Christmas carols, titled A Christmas Carol.[28]

In 2011, she explained she had recently undergone major surgery for bladder cancer.[29]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Debrett's profile: Mary Doreen Archer, Lady Archer of Weston-super-Mare". Debrett's. Retrieved 3 November 2015.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c Rustin, Susanna (23 October 2015). "Dame Mary Archer interview: 'To me everything has to work round family, and fortunately it has'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Index entry: Weeden, Harold N., spouse: Cox, registration entry: Surrey Mid. E., volume/page: 2a/628". Transcription of official national marriages registers compilation for England and Wales 1835-1983. ONS. Retrieved 20 December 2016.
  4. ^ "Have I Got News For You, Series 25 Episode 6 with Hugh Dennis, Gyles Brandreth & Martin Freeman".
  5. ^ Maguire, Kevin (20 July 2001). "Why Mary has stood by her man". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d "Speaker Profile: Dame Mary Archer". Speakers for schools. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  7. ^ a b Rayner, Jay (1 October 2000). "Mary had a little lamb..." The Observer. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  8. ^ "National Energy Foundation trustees: Mary Archer". National Energy Foundation. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  9. ^ "National Energy Foundation welcomes new Chair". National Energy Foundation. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
  10. ^ Watt, Nicholas (30 October 1999). "Archer's share deal under scrutiny again". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  11. ^ "Mary Archer receives award in Queen's Birthday Honours list". 16 June 2012. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Prime Minister appoints Dame Mary Archer as new chairman of the Science Museum group". Department of Culture, Media and Sport. 29 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Dame Mary Archer profile at Rightcare". 29 October 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  14. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours: Mary Archer made Dame". BBC News. 16 June 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  15. ^ "New road drives Cambridge to top spot for biomedical research". Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  16. ^ a b Stanford, Peter (19 February 2016). "Mary Archer: 'Jeffrey asked from jail if I wanted a divorce, but I'm not a quitter'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 26 February 2016.
  17. ^ Conlan, Tara. "Mary Archer, Life in the Fast Lane". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  18. ^ "William Archer profile at Bob&Co". London. Archived from the original on 14 November 2015. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  19. ^ McGibbon, Rob (12 January 2015). "My haven, Dame Mary Archer: The 70-year-old scientist and wife of novelist Jeffrey in her study at their home in Cambridgeshire". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  20. ^ Archer, Mary (24 August 2013). "Mary Archer: Most men need a wife to pump up their ego. Jeffrey needed one to puncture his". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  21. ^ Bindman QC, Geoffrey (4 September 2009). "The fragrant Archers". New Law Journal. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  22. ^ "Mary Archer: For better and worse", BBC News, 2001
  23. ^ Clough, Sue (20 July 2001). "The end: Archer goes to jail". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  24. ^ Kelso, Paul (23 July 2001). "Mary Archer may sell her story". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  25. ^ Woolcock, Nicola (3 July 2003). "'Lady Archer's attractive but her husband's a jerk'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  26. ^ Morris, Steven (3 September 2002). "Mary Archer was difficult and mean, says aide". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  27. ^ Sapsted, David (2 September 2002). "Lady Archer fights claim by sacked secretary". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  28. ^ Bedell, Geraldine (23 October 2011). "Interview: Mary Archer - A Jeffreyish streak: With her seasonal album, the demure ex-don reveals a taste for publicity". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2015.
  29. ^ Bloxham, Andy (19 August 2011). "Mary Archer on her battle with bladder cancer". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 April 2012.

Further reading[edit]