Our alumni

There is no such thing as a ‘Hertford type’. The turbulent religious politics of the sixteenth century saw one former student martyred for his Protestantism (William Tyndale, who translated the Bible into English) and another (Alexander Briant) for his Catholicism.

Over the centuries, Hertford students have achieved great renown. The political theorist and philosopher Thomas Hobbes prepared his great work on society, Leviathan, while at Magdalen Hall, and we have a copy inscribed by him as a gift to the college in the library’s collection. The poet John Donne was a student here, as was Jonathan Swift, author of satires including Gulliver’s Travels. The American writer and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke was the first African American Rhodes scholar and was admitted to Hertford in 1907. Evelyn Waugh was a student here, and based much of his novel Brideshead Revisited on his time at Oxford.

More recently, Hertford alumni have been prominent in all spheres. Alumni have included former Prime Minister of Malta Dom Mintoff, Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. Newsreaders Fiona Bruce, Natasha Kaplinsky and Krishnan Guru-Murthy all studied at Hertford. Jazz musician Soweto Kinch is a Hertford alumnus, as are prize-winning authors Andrea Ashworth and Tobias Wolff. Celebrated conservationists have included Max Nicholson, founder of the World Wildlife Fund, and Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring of Bright Water. Hertford’s notable economists include Marian Bell, COO of the Bank of England Charlotte Hogg, and former CEO of The Economist Helen Alexander.