I studied archaeology at Liverpool University, then studied for a doctorate in prehistoric archaeology at Oxford University. I returned to Liverpool University as a lecturer for a year, then took the decision to become a writer. Because I was worried about not actually selling any books, I also decided to train as an accountant so that I would always have a “day job”. Much to my surprise I found that I actually enjoyed accountancy, and in fact I worked as an accountant for the next twenty years. At the same time I started to write books about ancient Egypt, and eventually started my own publishing firm. I then moved to a lectureship in the Faculty of Life Sciences at Manchester University, where I currently teach Egyptology entirely on-line to students all over the world.
What is your connection to Bolton School? Were any other members of your family here?
Yes: my uncle, brother, sister, and three cousins all attended Bolton school; the tradition has continued with my daughter and son. You know that you are growing old when you are a mother to both an “Old Girl” and an “Old Boy”.
What is your fondest Bolton School memory?
The Ceremony of Carols in the Great Hall; an absolutely amazing experience.
Did any member of teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?
This is a very difficult question to answer as so many of the teaching staff were inspirational. But the most influential was probably Miss Falla who taught me maths for two years, because she showed me that with hard work it is possible not only to learn a difficult (for me) subject like maths, but also to learn to enjoy it.
What do you feel your experience at Bolton School has given to you personally?
Bolton School gave me a very good all-round education, and this gave me the confidence to develop my working life in several different directions. School also gave me life-long friends.
What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton School pupils today
Pupils who have decided on a profession such as medicine or dentistry have their careers more or less mapped out for them. Those who are undecided – as I was while at school – should aim to study subjects that they enjoy rather than subjects that they (or their parents) think will be useful. If you enjoy your work, it is so much easier to get a high grade, and that will open doors for you.
What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign aim to re-establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?
I think this is a very good idea; a great school should be open to everyone.