In Memoriam: Lesley Forbes

lesley forbes 3 cropped


We are very sorry to report that Lesley Forbes (Harding) died on 18th March 2020, after many years of living with cancer. She was 76.

Lesley became a Fellow of the College during her time as Keeper of Oriental Collections at the Bodleian Library (1999-2008). Prior to moving to Oxford, she was Curator of the Sudan collections at the University of Durham Library and before that worked at the Library of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

Lesley worked alongside Glenda Abramson, Peter Benton, Hung Cheng, Tim Pound and the St Cross Archivist, Emilie Savage Smith, sorting, organising and cataloguing the College Archives, from 2010 onwards, focusing initially on materials for the celebration in 2015 of the 50th anniversary of the College’s foundation. This ‘Archives Group’ worked every Tuesday, and their efforts continued well past the celebration.

As part of this work, Lesley updated the database for all College records relating to the Art Collections and realised that more needed to be done to ensure that the Collection was appropriately managed and cared for. She was appointed Art Registrar and elected a Fellow by Special Election in 2015. She continued in this role, working alongside the Master’s PA, Lesley Sanderson, and succeeded in introducing systems and processes which will stand the College in good stead for many years to come.

Carole Souter reflected on ‘how much [Lesley] did to help us manage our art collection… how much she valued her connection with the College [and] her stoicism in the face of a very long illness. She was a caring College advisor, and a good friend, whose quiet warmth will be much missed.’ A memorial service for Lesley will be held at the College in due course.


Tuesday 31 March 2020

Riley Lewis