Stratford woman is the oldest student in the country - The Stratford Observer
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7th Aug, 2022

Stratford woman is the oldest student in the country

ONE degree is enough for most, but the country’s oldest student is about to start her sixth.

Joy Gibson from Stratford already has five degrees under her belt, and although aged 90, she is now busy working on a PHD in Elizabethan theatre, and has no plans to put away the books anytime soon.

It was not until the tender age of 59 that she embarked on her first degree – a BA in philosophy – after her mother suggested she did an Open University course.

Joy told The Observer: “She was very encouraging. My second degree was her last present to me. She kept on at me right to the end of her life.”

“I love studying, reading is one of the greatest pleasures in life.

“I’ve been in love with Shakespeare for about 80 years and I enjoy having discussions with experts on him, and people who know what they talking about.”

The academic described her frustration at being told further education was only available for ex-servicemen.

“I was so cross. In those days you were expected to stay at home and play wife and mother. It just wasn’t me.”

So Joy took up a career as a writer and journalist on fashion, beauty and theatre.

She said: ” I wrote as soon as I was able to. I was always writing stories and plays as a little girl. I thought I was going to be a great novelist.”

She has not published a novel, but has penned Squeaking Cleopatras – a study on women’s roles in Shakespeare’s works – and a biography of actor Sir Ian McKellan.

Joy is a member the institute drama society, and has directed several Shakespeare plays, and aged 84 trod the boards herself as Isabelle of France in Henry VI.

Although student life is not quite as fast-paced for Joy as a nonagenarian, she is not short of drinking buddies.

“Being a student means I get to know lots of people – you lose friends as you get old, but I have friends in their 20s and above. They come over to visit. My wine bills are through the roof.

“I would encourage everybody to study regardless of age. It fills up my days and never gets boring.”

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