Paul O'Prey

Portrait of Paul O'Prey.JPG

Paul Gerard O'Prey CBE (born 1956)[citation needed] is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Roehampton in south-west London,[1] where he is also Professor of Modern Literature. He was appointed in 2004.[2]

Life and career[edit]

O'Prey was born in Southampton in 1956, the youngest of five children. He attended St George Roman Catholic Comprehensive School until the age of 16, when he transferred to King Edward VI School, Southampton, then a grant maintained grammar school. He won a place to study English Language and Literature at Keble College, Oxford. He obtained his PhD from the University of Bristol, where his supervisor was Charles Tomlinson.[citation needed]

In 1977, O'Prey left Oxford University to work for the author Robert Graves at his home in Deia, Mallorca. Professor O'Prey assisted him in various ways, most notably working with Graves' wife, Beryl (died 2003),[3] on the creation of a major archive of Graves's papers which is now housed at St John's College, Oxford.[4]

That work led him to publish a biographical study of Graves told through his letters with other eminent writers such as Siegfried Sassoon, T.S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein, published in two volumes: In Broken Images (Hutchinson, 1982) and Between Moon and Moon (Hutchinson, 1984).[citation needed] O'Prey's edition of Graves's Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 1986), published just after Graves's death in 1985, reinstated a number of poems which Graves himself had previously suppressed, including some of his youthful war poetry written during World War I.[citation needed]

O'Prey's other books include First World War: Poems from the Front, published in 2014 by the Imperial War Museum, to coincide with the centenary of the war. It takes a new approach in focusing on a small number of poets who saw active service on the Western Front, including three women.[5] O'Prey translated with Lucia Graves the first English translation of the Spanish nineteenth century classic novel, Los Pazos de Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazan (Penguin Classics, 1991, reissued 2013).[6] The book was later serialised by Channel 4.[7]

O'Prey wrote the first full critical study of the novels of Graham Greene, and edited the Penguin edition of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (Penguin Books, 1983). He edited the first collection of poems by the American First World War nurse and novelist Mary Borden (Dare-Gale Press, 2015). His media appearances include BBC Two's War of Words: Soldier Poets of the Somme, broadcast in 2014[8] and a Channel 4 programme on drugs and art.[9]


O'Prey has served on a number of bodies, the current or most recent of which include: Universities UK Board and Chair of the Longer Term strategy Group (2010–present); the Edward James Foundation and West Dean College Trustee (2015–present), Froebel Trust Trustee (2013–present), Higher Education Funding Council for England Strategic Advisory Committee on Leadership Governance and Management (2005–11); Higher Education Careers Services Unit Board (2006–13); London Higher Board (2006–09); Sport England Higher Education Stakeholder Group (2008–present); Putney High School, Governor (2004–09); Editorial Board of Despatches, journal of the Imperial War Museum; President of the War Poets Association (2007–13); and Worldwide Universities Network Academic Board (2002–04).


Prior to joining the University of Roehampton as Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive when it gained independent university status in 2004, O'Prey spent 16 years at the University of Bristol, where he worked in a variety of capacities, latterly as Director of Academic Affairs. At Bristol he played a seminal role in the introduction of Entrepreneurship as an academic discipline and in the establishment of Enterprise and Knowledge Transfer as key themes in the University's mission. He played a key role in the development of the University's Research Strategy and Education Strategy, and in the development of initiatives to improve access to the University for students from non-traditional backgrounds.[1] He was also warden of the University of Bristol hall of residence Goldney Hall until 2004.[citation needed]

According to the University's website, during O'Prey's tenure as Vice-Chancellor, the University of Roehampton has adopted a strategy to establish a strong academic reputation.[1] In 2014 Roehampton was ranked the most research intensive modern university in the UK,[10] with two-thirds of research rated 'world leading' or 'internationally excellent'.[citation needed]


In 2011, O'Prey received honorary doctorates from the University of Bristol[11] and Manhattanville College (New York).[12]


O'Prey was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2016 Birthday Honours for services to higher education and the literary history of the First World War.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Archive". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Appointments". Times Higher Education. 17 March 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Obituary: Beryl Graves". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Robert Graves – St John's College Oxford". University of Oxford. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  5. ^ "Author Paul O'Prey speaks to Centenary News". Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  6. ^ Nicholas Lezard. "The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  7. ^ "The MANOR OF ULLOA (1991)". 2 July 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  8. ^ "BBC Two – War of Words: Soldier-Poets of the Somme". BBC. 15 November 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  9. ^ "Drug-Taking and the Arts (1993)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  10. ^ Jump, Paul. "REF 2014 rerun: who are the 'game players'?". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Bristol University". University of Bristol. 22 March 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Archive" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  13. ^ "No. 61608". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 June 2016. p. B9.