Victoria Gray

Victoria Gray founded, and is the Executive Director of, Give a Book (Reg charity 1149664). Give a Book promotes books and the pleasure of reading in the hardest places, mainly working in prisons and with disadvantaged children and communities around the UK. 

I’d had a checkered school career and left school at 15. Time, and other activities passed before I realised that I wanted to go back into education and got a place at university. The first thing was being sent a reading list– freedom to read, directions to go in, hints to pursue, tastes to develop, ideas to try out, rabbit holes to disappear into– I was hooked. (I still love a list.) Then came talking, friendships growing around thinking and reading, happy trawls in the library, discoveries. Now that I had found reading, my plan for life, as it were, was to read modern literature for ever. So I decided to make the most of my time by specialising in something I would never do again. But specialising, in other words concentrating, in other words working, got me thinking, learning, understanding, and loving a branch of literature and language I had never known existed. I went on to do research, and then teach medieval literature. Though I no longer teach, I recently re-read Troilus and Criseyde and marvelled all over again. A woman I admired told me much later, in a different context, that work is love. That’s what university meant to me, I learnt to work. And to love that.