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November 26, 1999

Send all information to Lynne Williams

There is much more to Mary Archer than her "fragrance". While she will ever be associated with her colourful husband and the notorious descripton of her by the judge in Lord Archer's libel case, she is first a chemist.

She was born and brought up in Surrey and educated at Cheltenham Ladies College and St Anne's College, Oxford, where she graduated with a first in chemistry. She was a 19-year-old student when she met Jeffrey Archer at a party and found him "intriguing". They married three years later.

Armed with a PhD from Imperial College, London, she became a junior research fellow at St Hilda's College, Oxford, for three years from 1968, followed by a stint as lecturer at Somerville. In 1972, she became a research fellow at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. Four years later, she was a lecturer in chemistry at Trinity College, Cambridge, and fellow and college lecturer at Newnham.

She now combines work as a bye-fellow at Newnham, senior academic fellow at De Montfort University and visiting professor at Imperial College's biochemistry department. She is also writing a textbook on solar energy, which draws on another of her roles - chairman of the National Energy Foundation. Under the last government, she served on the Renewable Energy Advisory Group.

A trustee of the Science Museum and a member of the council of Cheltenham Ladies' College, she gained a high profile as head of Lloyd's Hardship Committee, representing Lloyd's Names who had suffered heavy losses. In 1995, she resigned as a non-executive director of Anglia Television Group when her husband was investigated for suspected insider dealing.

She has been described as "indisputably clever", "super rational" and "magnificently cool". She is choir mistress at her local church and once performed cabaret on a Channel 4 New Year show.

Feature, page 18

People is edited by Harriet Swain and researched by Lynne Williams.

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