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7 March 2024

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International Women’s Day 2024: Poem published for the centenary of St Hugh’s Principal Eleanor Jourdain’s death

On the eve of International Women’s Day, St Hugh’s is celebrating the life of one of its most influential women in the College’s history, Eleanor Jourdain (1863-1924) with a poem, written by St Hugh’s Bursar, Gareth Prior. The poem, which explores two of the most famous episodes in St Hugh’s history, has been published in a leading journal in time for the centenary of the death of Eleanor Jourdain.

Jourdain, who was Principal from 1915 until her death in office, was a scholar of French and Italian literature who oversaw the opening of the College’s Main Building. In 1901, she and Principal Anne Moberly lost their way in the grounds of the Palace of Versailles and became convinced that they had experienced something supernatural, subsequently known as the Moberly-Jourdain Incident and the subject of their bestselling book An Adventure. Jourdain took over as Principal on Moberly’s retirement and led the College until April 1924, when she suffered a fatal heart attack following a dispute with colleagues that ended her Principalship. Today she is remembered as one of the most remarkable figures in the College’s history.

Gareth, who is a published poet, originally wrote “An Adventure” as the toast at the St Hugh’s Night Dinner last academic year. You can read the published poem here.

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