|Name Wendy Beckett|
|Books The story of painting, Contemporary women artists, The mystical now, Peggy Glanville-Hicks|
Education St Anne's College, Oxford
Sister Wendy Beckett passes away (1930 - 2018) (UK) - BBC News - 26th December 2018
Sister Wendy in Conversation part 1
Wendy Beckett (born 25 February 1930), better known as Sister Wendy, is a British hermit, consecrated virgin, and art historian who became well known internationally during the 1990s when she presented a series of documentaries for the BBC on the history of art. Her programmes, such as Sister Wendy's Odyssey and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour, often drew a 25 percent share of the British viewing audience. In 1997, Sister Wendy made her U.S. debut on public television and that same year The New York Times described her as "a sometime hermit who is fast on her way to becoming the most unlikely and famous art critic in the history of television." As of 2016, segments of these shows are still being aired on some PBS channels in the U.S.
- Sister Wendy Beckett passes away 1930 2018 UK BBC News 26th December 2018
- Sister Wendy in Conversation part 1
- Early life
- Return to England
- Interest in art
- Gay marriage
- Television and media work
Beckett was born in South Africa, and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, where her father was studying medicine. In 1946, she entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a Roman Catholic congregation of Religious Sisters dedicated to education. She was sent to England where she completed her novitiate and then studied at St Anne's College, Oxford where she was awarded a congratulatory first class honours degree in English Literature.
Outside her academic work, she lived in a convent which maintained the strict code of silence typical in convents prior to the reforms following the Second Vatican Council (1962–65). After attending the Notre Dame College of Education (Liverpool) and earning a teaching diploma in 1954, she returned to South Africa to teach at Notre Dame Convent, a school for girls in Constantia, Cape Town, where she taught English and Latin. Later she moved to Johannesburg where she was appointed the superior of the local convent, while she also lectured at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Return to England
In 1970, health problems forced Beckett to abandon teaching and to return to England. She obtained papal permission to leave her congregation and to become a consecrated virgin and hermit. She began living in a caravan (towed trailer) on the grounds of a Carmelite monastery at Quidenham, Norfolk, and her caravan was later replaced by a mobile home. Besides receiving the Carmelite prioress and a nun who brings her provisions, she dedicates her life solely to solitude and prayer, but allotting two hours of work per day to earn her living.
Interest in art
Sister Wendy spent many years translating Medieval Latin scripts before deciding, in 1980, to pursue art. Her first book, Contemporary Women Artists, was published in 1988. Sister Wendy Contemplates Saint Paul in Art was published in 2008 to celebrate the Year of Saint Paul. In May 2009, Encounters with God: In Quest of the Ancient Icons of Mary was published, which follows Beckett's pilgrimage to see the earliest icons of Mary which had survived the Byzantine Iconoclasm. Beckett continued writing about her interest in icons in the second volume of her Sister Wendy Contemplates series, published in July 2011. This book, entitled The Iconic Jesus, takes the reader through scenes from the New Testament, accompanied by Sister Wendy's reflections. Her next book, published in 2011, The Christ Journey, consists of her commentaries on the artwork of Greg Tricker.
When Beckett required medical treatment as an outpatient at a local hospital, the television chef Delia Smith, a Roman Catholic convert, volunteered, through a mutual friend, to drive her there each week. Smith also drove her around the country to meet the artists when Beckett was writing her book about contemporary women artists. Through this the two became good friends.
Having overheard her commentary while attending an art exhibit, a film crew asked to videotape her. This brought her to the attention of a BBC producer and led, in 1992, to the debut Sister Wendy’s Odyssey.
In 2007 Beckett was asked, "You've spoken out about gay marriage. How do you balance what you believe with what you have sworn to uphold?" She replied:
I believe in loyalty. We should respect our church, but never believe that the church has the last word. The church is saying 'this', but I believe that sooner or later 'this' will change. 'This' is not the mind of our Lord. God is all love. It's a delicate balancing thing. The Church has changed its position over the years, and because the spirit is with the Church, in the end the Church will always get it right. But in the end. The spirit of the Church is the meaning of love, which hasn't yet, perhaps, been fully understood."
Television and media work
Beckett has narrated the following documentaries:
and also an audio commentary for tourists to the Sistine Chapel:
Additionally she features in the following:
A musical, Postcards from God: The Sister Wendy Musical, was written by Marcus Reeves and Beccy Smith and performed at the Jermyn Street Theatre in the West End in 2007 and Hackney Empire Studio Theatre in 2008.
As a TV presenter, she is known for having a distinctive speech impediment which affects her pronunciation of R's.