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Margaret Cornell obituary

Written by Pilar Domingo

Press Release

Our dear colleague Constance Margaret Cornell (née Levesley) (1915–2022) passed away in May this year, aged 106.

Margaret joined ODI in 1976 as associate editor to work on the ODI Review, the predecessor of Development Policy Review (DPR). The journal had been founded a year earlier, and in those early days, Margaret helped shape the direction it would take. She continued to work with the journal until 2015, when she retired having reached 100 years.

Margaret was born and brought up in Spalding in the Lincolnshire Fens. She was head girl at Spalding High School for Girls, then won a State Scholarship — one of only a hundred on offer across the country — to take her to Lady Margaret Hall at the University of Oxford. She graduated with Honours in History in 1936. From then on, Margaret embarked on a rich family and professional life, initially in wartime MI6, and later as administrator of Chatham House, a centre of international studies. It was when she retired from that position at the age of 60, that she took up part-time employment for ODI — as organiser of events, editor of ODI publications, and as an associate editor of DPR.

Margaret Cornell.jpg
Image credit:Margaret Cornell. Photo by Melissa A Hewitt

Margaret was a truly remarkable woman, greatly admired and valued by all who worked with her at ODI over the years. As one colleague put it:

“She was a formidable editor and did great work for so many ODI publications. She was amazingly good at convincing colleagues to accept her changes and talking to her was always fun”.

Her diligent editing set a high standard for the journal. Several generations of journal editors, communications colleagues, authors and researchers benefitted from her deep knowledge of history, her editorial skills, her delightful sense of humour and wit, and her extraordinary kindness and thoughtfulness.

She set standards for journal editors today. We are truly indebted to Margaret and mourn her passing.

Pilar Domingo, Editor, Development Policy Review 2010-2016