Martin Ferguson Smith, OBE, MA, MLitt, LittD, FSA, FRGS, FRHistS,

is a British scholar and writer, whose interests and publications range from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, literature, and culture to twentieth-century British literature, art, and society.

Predominantly Scottish on his father’s side and part Cornish on his mother’s, he was born midway between Scotland and Cornwall, in Birmingham, England, on 26 April 1940. He was educated at Shrewsbury School (1953-1958) and Trinity College, Dublin (1958-1963). At TCD he was a Foundation Scholar and gold medallist in Classics (1960). After gaining First Class Honours and a Moderatorship Prize (1962), he did postgraduate research for a thesis entitled Lucretius: The Man and His Mission (MLitt, Dublin, 1965).

Between 1963 and 1988 he taught Classics at the University College of North Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), from 1977 as Professor. From 1988 he was Professor of Classics at Durham University. Because of increasing problems with his eyesight, he took early retirement from university teaching in 1995. He maintains his association with Durham University as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Classics and Ancient History and as a founder member of Durham Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

Since 1995 he has lived in voluntary self-isolation on Foula, a remote and rugged island 20 miles (32 kilometres) west of the Shetland mainland. The population is about 30. There is no shop or place of entertainment; the electricity comes and goes; and the island, the windiest location in the UK, is frequently cut off by bad weather. Martin acquired a 10-acre (4-hectare) croft, where he was soon joined by two attractive brunettes with long hair – and still longer horns! The pair of Highland cows, Frangag II of Glamis Castle (“Fran”), granddaughter of Macbeth, and the Empress Plotina, gained fans around the world and are the heroines (although not portrayed as Highlanders) of a charming and instructive children’s book in Portuguese written by Ana Vicente and illustrated by Madalena Matoso (Quanto Pesa um Quilograma?). In summer Martin’s fields are a spectacularly colourful carpet of wild flowers, and the croft is a sanctuary for numerous species of native and migratory birds. He enjoys the further blessings of no television and no mobile telephone signal. His chief recreations are walking, gardening, cryptic crosswords, and baroque music.

Martin married Elizabeth Mary Dempsey (1935-1997) of Dublin on 4 April 1964. The marriage was dissolved in 1981. He has a daughter and a granddaughter. In “retirement” he has continued to be very active in research and writing. In 2007 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to scholarship”.

Mary Jane


after his investiture as OBE: 18 October 2007


Member of Council, Society for Promotion of Hellenic Studies, 1973-1976
Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (FSA), 1975-
President of the Albanian Society, 1982-1991
Leverhulme Research Fellow, 1987-1988
Member of the Council of Management, British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1987-1994
Member of the Asia Minor Commission (Kleinasiatische Kommission), Austrian Academy of Sciences, 1990-2007
Awarded the degree of Doctor in Letters (LittD) by the University of Dublin, 1993
Awarded the International Theodor Mommsen Prize for Herculaneum Papyrology, Pozzuoli, Italy, 2004
Member of the Editorial and Advisory Board of the archaeological and historical journal Adalya (Turkey), 2004-
Member of the Research Institute of Mediterranean Civilisations (AKMED), Antalya, Turkey, 2004-
Appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), June 2007
Member of the Scientific Committee of the journal Cronache Ercolanesi (Naples, Italy) 2012-
Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS), 2016-
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) 2018-
Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute (Deutsches Archäologisches Institut), 2020-
Member of the Academic Advisory Board of the philosophical journal Arkhe-Logos (Turkey), 2022-


Martin has an international reputation for his work on the Roman writer Lucretius (c.98-c.55 BC), who presented the doctrines of the Greek philosopher Epicurus in his epic of the universe, De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things), arguably the greatest philosophical and scientific poem ever written. His translation of it was first published by Sphere Books of London in 1969. In his award-winning book The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began (Norton: New York, 2011), Stephen Greenblatt of Harvard University describes how the access the translation gave him to Lucretius opened up a whole new world for him.

Lucretius slide

The translation was re-issued in revised form, with extended introduction and notes, by Hackett of Indianapolis in 2001. The new edition of the translation, described by Lucretius specialist Gordon Campbell as “streets ahead of the competition”, has sold over 30,000 copies. It was one of the last books to be read by the celebrated American novelist Philip Roth before he died (New York Times, 16 and 23 January 2018).

Martin is also the editor of the Loeb Classical Library text of Lucretius (1975, with further editions in 1982 and 1992), published by Harvard University Press. ISBN 0- 674-99200- 8. The Latin text, the introduction, critical and explanatory notes, bibliography, and index are his doing, while the translation is that of W.H.D. Rouse (1924), revised to make it accord with the new text. This work too has been widely and highly praised. E.J. Kenney, former Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge University, called it “the best and most widely accessible of the editions available”. It is the one the then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a Classics graduate of Oxford University, chose to take to Scotland as part of his holiday reading in August 2020.


Most classical scholars spend their time studying Greek and Latin texts that have been known for many centuries. When Martin was an undergraduate student, he was inspired by stories of those who have discovered new texts, whether manuscripts unnoticed in libraries, papyri preserved in the sands of Egypt or the volcanic ash of Herculaneum, or inscriptions. He formed an ambition to follow in their footsteps – an ambition which over the past half century he has fulfilled beyond his wildest dreams.

In 1967 he began to interest himself in Diogenes of Oinoanda, who, probably early in the second century AD, expounded the philosophy of Epicurus in a gigantic Greek inscription carved on the wall of a stoa (colonnade) in his home-city in northern Lycia, in the mountains of southwest Asia Minor (Turkey).

88 pieces of the inscription, of varying sizes, had been found by French and Austrian epigraphists late in the nineteenth century. The discoveries naturally attracted the attention of specialists in ancient philosophy, but no attempt to find more of Diogenes’ work, or even to re-examine the pieces already discovered, was made until 1968, when Martin made the first of many visits to Oinoanda.

Mary Jane

Working first on his own (1968-1973), then as a member of teams from the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara (1974-2003), he recorded and published 135 more pieces of the inscription, bringing the total of known fragments to 223 and contributing several thousand words to Diogenes’ valuable exposition of Epicureanism, one of the most important and influential philosophies in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. He also rediscovered most of the texts found in the nineteenth century and published fuller and more accurate readings of them.

Martin estimates that the inscription originally contained about 25,000 words, which makes it much the largest inscription known from the ancient world. It is unique also in presenting a complete system of philosophy. Diogenes tells his readers that he is “at the sunset of his life” and wishes, before he dies, to share with them “the remedies that bring salvation”, by which he means the philosophical “medicine” devised by Epicurus to cure the moral sickness that afflicts most human beings, by eliminating their unnecessary fears and desires and so enabling them to achieve the perfect peace of mind in which perfect happiness consists. He addresses not only his contemporaries, but also generations to come (“for they are our concern, although they are not yet born”). Moreover, he wants to benefit foreigners as well as Oinoandans – or rather “those who are called foreigners, although they are not really that, for … the whole compass of this world gives all people a single country … and a single home.” His philanthropic and cosmopolitan message, addressed urbi et orbi (to the city and the world), is remarkable and highly relevant to our age, as is his (and Epicurus’) conviction that scientific knowledge, properly applied, can rid us of fear, especially of the gods and of death.

Mary Jane


(the notice in Turkish warns against smoking cigarettes on the wooded site and forbids the lighting of fires.)
The wall that carried the inscription no longer stands. In late antiquity the stoa was either destroyed by an earthquake or deliberately demolished, and the blocks of the inscription were re-used as building material over a wide area of the city, which means that recovering Diogenes’ work is an exercise rather like that of assembling a massive jigsaw puzzle, with the extra difficulties that many of the pieces are damaged or missing. The inscription occupied several (probably seven) horizontal courses of the wall, and the lettering in the upper courses, which were above eye level, was larger than that in the lower ones.

In 2007 further investigations at Oinoanda were begun by an international team directed by Dr Martin Bachmann, Vice-Director of the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul. The new exploration of the site continued in 2008-2012 and, briefly, 2015 and 2017. Professor Jürgen Hammerstaedt, of the University of Cologne, and Martin (Smith) have collaborated closely and fruitfully in recording, editing, and publishing the 82 new pieces of Diogenes’ inscription that were found. More pieces not seen for well over a century were also brought to light. All the visible fragments, “old” and “new”, were recorded not only by the traditional methods of photography and the making of epigraphic “squeezes” (impressions obtained by using a brush to beat wetted filter paper into the letters inscribed on the stones), but also by 3D laser scanning. The 3D images are a valuable new tool of research, not least because they enable the wall of the stoa to be rebuilt in virtual reality. Another important achievement during the latest work at Oinoanda was the erection, in 2010, of a steel storehouse on the site to accommodate the pieces of the inscription and keep them safe for posterity.

inscription of 																													Diogenes of Oinoanda



inscription of 																													Diogenes of Oinoanda


The text (New Fragment 186) is part of a letter in which Diogenes expresses his readiness to help unnamed women who already have some acquaintance with Epicurus' philosophy, but have not yet achieved the moral goal of tranquillity of mind.

Despite the sudden and untimely death of Martin Bachmann on 3 August 2016, the Oinoanda project, including work on Diogenes’ inscription, continues. What has been recovered of the inscription (totalling 305 pieces and about 8,000 words) is only a fraction, no more than a third, of the complete work, and there is a need for large-scale excavations to bring to light the buried parts of one of the most remarkable and attractive documents to survive from the ancient world – a document whose moral message is as relevant and important to us today as it was in Diogenes’ time.

Publications on Diogenes of Oinoanda

Martin has presented the new discoveries at Oinoanda, as well as the revised and much improved texts of the nineteenth-century finds, in five books, the most recent one co-authored with Jürgen Hammerstaedt, and about 75 articles.

Books on Diogenes

1.Thirteen New Fragments of Diogenes of Oenoanda (Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 6). Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, 1974. ISBN 3-7001- 0085-X.

2.Diogenes of Oinoanda, The Epicurean Inscription (La scuola di Epicuro, Supplemento 1). Bibliopolis, Napoli, 1993. ISBN 88-7088- 270-5. Lengthy introduction, Greek text, critical notes, English translation, explanatory notes, Greek indices, and illustrations.

3.The Philosophical Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda (Ergänzungsbände zu den Tituli Asiae Minoris 20). Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Wien, 1996. ISBN 3-7001- 2596-8. A companion volume to 2, containing drawings and photographs of the pieces of Diogenes’ inscription.

4.Supplement to Diogenes of Oinoanda, The Epicurean Inscription (La scuola di Epicuro, Supplemento 3). Bibliopolis, Napoli, 2003. ISBN 88-7088- 441-4. Presents new texts found, and new work done, after the publication of 2. Awarded the International Theodor Mommsen Prize for Herculaneum Papyrology, 2004.

5.Jürgen Hammerstaedt & Martin Ferguson Smith, The Epicurean Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda: Ten Years of New Discoveries and Research. Rudolf Habelt, Bonn, 2014. ISBN 978 3 7749 3927 1.

Recent Articles on Diogenes (selection)

“New Research at Oinoanda and a New Fragment of the Epicurean Diogenes (NF 213)”, Epigraphica Anatolica 49 (2016) 109-125. Co-author with Jürgen Hammerstaedt.

“Foreword: The Importance of Diogenes of Oinoanda”, in J. Hammerstaedt, P-M. Morel, and R. Güremen (eds), Diogenes of Oinoanda: Epicureanism and Philosophical Debates, Leuven University Press (2017) xi-xvii.

“Diogenes of Oinoanda: The New and Unexpected Discoveries of 2017 (NF 214-219), With a Re-edition of Fr. 70-72”, Epigraphica Anatolica 51 (2018) 43-79. With Jürgen Hammerstaedt.

“Diogenes of Oinoanda: News and Notes XIII (2018)”, Cronache Ercolanesi 49 (2019) 301-313.

"A New Look at Diogenes of Oinoanda, Fr. 157 Smith", Hyperboreus 25, 2 (2019) 351-362. 2 figures.

“Fifty Years of New Epicurean Discoveries at Oinoanda”, Cronache Ercolanesi 50 (2020) 241-258.
Chronicles the remarkable story of Diogenes’ inscription from antiquity to the present, with particular focus on the discoveries and rediscoveries made at Oinoanda in 1968-2017.

“Diogenes of Oinoanda: News and Notes XIV (2019-2021)”, Cronache Ercolanesi 52 (2022) 383-399. One figure. A survey of recent work, including details of activities and a critical review of over fifty relevant publications. There is also a tribute to the late Jim Coulton.

NEW! “Oinoandalı Diogenes Önemi” (çev. Serena Nur Erkızan), Arkhe-logos, Cilt 8, Sayı 15 (ağustos 2023). In Turkish.

NEW! “Diogenes of Oinoanda Fr. 65 + Fr. 78: A Join Enabled by Digital Models”, Epigraphica Anatolica 55 (2022 [2024]), 121-129. Illustrated. With Jürgen Hammerstaedt.

Film on Diogenes of Oinoanda

An award-winning documentary film, A Gigantic Jigsaw Puzzle: The Epicurean Inscription of Diogenes of Oinoanda, directed by Nazim Güveloğlu, was shot at Oinoanda in 2011. Martin takes a leading (and wholly unrehearsed) part in it.


Other classical authors on whom Martin has published work include Sophocles, Epicurus, Philodemus, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and Statius.

In 1978-1985 Martin made five visits to Albania. At the time the country was largely closed to foreign visitors and had no diplomatic relations with the UK. Consequently there was little knowledge outside the country’s borders, even in neighbouring Greece, of post-war developments in Albanian archaeology. At the invitation of the Albanian Academy of Sciences and the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, Martin visited archaeological and historical sites in many parts of the country. In 1983, with the support of the British Academy, he arranged in Tirana for the delivery of an illustrated report on “Archaeology in Albania, 1973-83” by the Albanian archaeologist Zhaneta Andrea. After much editing, alteration, and adaptation by Martin, who became in effect its co-author, it was published in 1984 by the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and the British School at Athens in Archaeological Reports for 1983-84, pp. 102-119. Martin gave many lectures on Albanian archaeology and history in the UK. He also published a booklet entitled Classics in Albania (Ilford, 1984).

Classics in Albania


Although Martin continues to be active as a classicist, especially in relation to Diogenes of Oinoanda, in recent years he has also produced a significant amount of work in other fields. Like the work on Diogenes for which he is best known as a classicist, much of his “modern” work is exceptionally original, bringing to light previously unknown texts, pictures, and facts.


1.Dearest Jean: Rose Macaulay’s Letters to a Cousin (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2011), hardback. ISBN 978 0 7190 8521.

2.Dearest Jean: Rose Macaulay’s Letters to a Cousin (Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2017), paperback, with revisions. ISBN 978 1 5261 2300 8.

3.Madeleine Symons, Social and Penal Reformer (SilverWood Books, Bristol, 2017). ISBN 978 1 78132 719 7 (paperback), 978 1 78132 748 7 (ebook).

The first detailed study of the life and work of this modest but energetic women’s trade union negotiator and champion of social justice, whose career began in 1916 and ended with her death in 1957.

Cathy Hunt, Women’s History Review 27 (2018) 642-643.

Lorraine Atkinson, Howard League for Penal Reform’s Early Career Network Bulletin 36 (July 2018) 35.


4.In and Out of Bloomsbury: Biographical Essays on Twentieth-Century Writers and Artists (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2021). Hardback ISBN 978-1-5261-5744-7, Ebook 978-1-5261-5743-0. Publication: 20 July 2021.


5.NEW! In and out of Bloomsbury: Biographical Essays on Twentieth-Century Writers and Artists. Manchester: Manchester University Press, paperback, 2023. For full details, see below under RECENT NEWS, SEPTEMBER 2023.

6.NEW! The Artist Helen Coombe (1864-1937): The Tragedy of Roger Fry’s Wife. London: Paul Holberton Publishing for Hogarth Arts, published 1 October 2023. For details, see below under RECENT NEWS, MARCH 2024.


‘“Golliwog’, Wolley-Dods, Wollaston, and Others: Some Contemporaries of Dorothy L. Sayers at the Godolphin School, Salisbury”, Proceedings of the Dorothy L. Sayers Society 34th Annual Convention 14th -17th August, 2009 (Hurstpierpoint, 2010), 81-100.

“Virginia Woolf’s Second Visit to Greece”, English Studies 92 (2011) 55-83.

“Dorothy L. Sayers and the Somersham Pageant of 1908”, VII: An Anglo-American Literary Review 28 (2011) 79-96.

“A Good Rector Playing a Bad Bishop: Henry Sayers in the Somersham Pageant”, The Dorothy L. Sayers Society Bulletin 226 (March 2013) 15-17 (e-version of the issue only).

“‘Suicidal Mania’ and Flawed Psychobiography: Two Discussions of Virginia Woolf”, English Studies 95 (2014) 538-556.

“Virginia Woolf and ‘The Hermaphrodite’: A Feminist Fan of Orlando and Critic of Roger Fry”, English Studies 97 (2016) 277-297.

"‘New’ Portraits by Roger Fry (1866-1934) of Helen Fry and Vanessa Bell”, The British Art Journal 17, no. 3 (Spring 2017) 34-39.

“The British Connection: The Secret Son of Brig. Gen. Daniel Harris Reynolds”, Arkansas Historical Quarterly 76, no. 2 (Summer 2017) 144-176.

“Letters from Rose Macaulay to Katharine Tynan”, English Studies 99 (2018) 517-537.

“The First Visit of Tristram Hillier (1905-1983) to Portugal”, The British Art Journal 20, no. 1 (Spring 2019) 90-97. Illustrated.

“Clive Bell’s Memoir of Annie Raven-Hill”, English Studies 100 (2019) 823-854. Illustrated. With Helen Walasek.

“A Complete Strip-off: A Bloomsbury Threesome in the Nude at Studland”, The British Art Journal 20, no. 2 (Autumn 2019) 72-77. Illustrated.

“Covid-19 and Greek Philosophy”,The Philosophers’ Magazine (3rd Quarter 2020) 53-56
READ HERE: AND Greek Philosophy.pdf

“The Royal Academy of Arts Students’ Clubs, 1883-1902,” The British Art Journal 22, No. 1 (Spring 2021) 78-88. Illustrated.
READ HERE: 20Clubs 20BAJ 20XXII.pdf

“Pandemics, Plagues, and Philosophy: Moral Lessons from Antiquity for the Modern World”, in Antigone [online classical journal], January 2022. Illustrated.

NEW! “The Stephen and Macaulay Families: Two New Letters”, Virginia Woolf Bulletin No. 75, January 2024, 28-39.


APRIL 2024

New article on Diogenes of Oinoanda

“Diogenes of Oinoanda Fr. 65 + Fr. 78: A Join Enabled by Digital Models”, Epigraphica Anatolica 55 (2022 [2024]), 121-129. Illustrated. With Jürgen Hammerstaedt.
Digital scans prove that fr. 78 is a piece broken off from fr. 65, a damaged block of Diogenes’ Letter to Antipater. The two are brought together for the first time, and a revised text and interpretation of the passage is presented. It seems most likely that Diogenes is criticising a view of our world held by the Stoics, using a polemical argument similar to that of Lucretius 1.1052-1113.

MARCH 2024

  • Latest Book

  • The Artist Helen Coombe (1864-1937): The Tragedy of Roger Fry’s Wife.
    London: Paul Holberton Publishing for Hogarth Arts. Hardback, published 1 October 2023.
    72 illustrations. ISBN 978-1-913645-53-3, RRP £45 (€50, $55).

    Helen Coombe Artwork Cover

    “The deeply moving chronicle of an artist whose promising career was cut short by severe mental illness. … Smith’s fine book poignantly evokes Helen Coombe’s tragic life while also richly celebrating her creative talent.”
    The British Art Journal (Peter Cormack)

    "The tragedy of Helen's illness is deepened and darkened by her brilliance as an artist. ... Brilliantly illuminating and deeply moving, The Artist Helen Coombe is a biographical treasure."
    English Studies (Linda Elisabeth LaPinta)

    “Meticulous biography …Little of [Coombe’s] work survives, but illustrations here give flashes of her genius.”
    RA [Royal Academy] Magazine (Ed Bankes)

    ""Coombe ... was not some generic madwoman in the attic, but a painter and designer of note, a far better one than Fry had ever been. ... Smith aims to give Coombe back her identity, not only as an artist of considerable achievement, but also as a woman with a distinct emotional and social trajectory. ... The correspondence [between the couple], especially on Coombe's side, flashes with wit, intelligence and despair".
    The Times Literary Supplement, "His better half: A painter and designer who outshone her famous husband" (Kathryn Hughes)

    “A compelling and meticulously researched biography.”
    Virginia Woolf Bulletin (Wendy Jones Nakanishi)

    “Highly original and an absolutely key contribution to the convoluted and often muddled history of the Bloomsbury Group - in its widest sense.”
    Robin Simon, Editor of The British Art Journal

    "A magisterial achievement".
    Marianne Thormählen, Professor emerita, Lund University

    Helen Coombe was the wife of the artist and art critic Roger Fry, who was to join Virginia Woolf and a dozen or so others in the Bloomsbury Group. Although this highly original book contributes much to knowledge of Roger Fry, it focuses throughout on Helen Coombe’s life and work. It reveals a strong-minded individual, who, with little financial support from her family, trained and became established as an artist whose genius won the admiration of her contemporaries. It presents examples of her fine work, including pictures, stained glass, and decorations of musical instruments. The serious mental illness, which erupted soon after her marriage and was identified long after her death as schizophrenia, was a tragedy for her, for her husband and family, and for British art: in the last 27 years of her life, she never lived at home, never saw her children, and never fulfilled any commissions. There are strong indications that her illness’s root cause was genetic, but that it was aggravated by Roger Fry’s behaviour. He wanted a wife who would take second place to his artistic career and ambitions. This did not suit her, and in every episode of her illness she turned against him. Two of his later lovers, Vanessa Bell and Josette Coatmellec, also found him “impossible”, and, when the latter committed suicide, Virginia Woolf wondered “how long can Roger love a woman without driving her mad”.

    The book is a “must” for all interested in the Bloomsbury Group, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the handling of mental illness at a time before efficacious antipsychotic drugs were available.

    Helen Coombe at the Royal Academy of Arts

    Helen Coombe entered the RA (Royal Academy) Schools in 1882, aged eighteen, won a prestigious prize in 1885, and probably stayed until 1888. She was one of the students who in 1883 successfully petitioned for women to be allowed to study and draw the partially-draped figure – a small first step towards female students achieving equality with male students. This being so, it is fitting that Martin’s new biography of her is in the RA Library, is on sale in the RA Shop, and is reviewed in the RA Magazine just in time for International Women’s Day (9 March 2024) and the artist’s 160th birthday (23 March).

    For the link to Martin’s article “The Royal Academy of Arts Students’ Clubs, 1883-1902”, see below, under AUGUST 2021.

    ♥“Bloomsbury in Love”♥: Extracts from The Artist Helen Coombe (1864-1937)

    On 21 February 2024 the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain held a Zoom meeting at which members read short passages of their choice. Martin’s choice was two extracts from loving letters from Roger Fry to Helen Coombe, published in his new book, The Artist Helen Coombe (1864-1937). One was written on 3 July 1896, about three weeks before they agreed to get married, the other on 9 January 1907, about three weeks before Helen had one of her periodic mental-health breakdowns and six months before she was sectioned under the Lunacy Act, the subject of a. detention order which remained in force until her death thirty years later. Martin considered it remarkable that the later passage, just as much as the earlier one, praised the originality and brilliance of Helen’s aesthetic sensibility and judgement.

    My dearest Helen
    I’m afraid you’ll have to love me after all because I want you to so very much - does that reasoning seem inadequate perhaps it is - and the thing looks impossible you to whom style is everything and me who can only appreciate style all the more because I haven’t got it. You who live in appearance and care nothing about the whyness of the what to whom the what is sufficient - I who am always grubbing in the entrails of things to find out their causes I who believe in reality you who don’t. Yes, all that makes it very difficult but not impossible, that is all I can console myself with.

    Roger Fry wrote the second letter from Basel (Basle) Railway Station, where he has just arrived from London after a night in a couchette:

    Dear one … you know you have genius you do things in a different way to what ordinary reasoning and calculation would suggest. And then dear heart I’ve thought of all our talks on other things and I do see how much deeper and wiser your view is than the one I might have taken by myself. Your instincts I mean are really truer than mine though I can see that wisdom and can and do understand and agree with it.
    … Oh I want you so much – but also I almost like this time alone to digest all that you have given me in a wonderful fortnight. Oh you have been extraordinary my dear, You do give me new ideas of the range of yr. powers and the sureness of yr. touch. Still how I longed for the morning kiss in my little shelf.
    Yr. loving

    Article on Virginia Woolf, Rose Macaulay, and the families to which they belonged

    “The Stephen and Macaulay Families: Two New Letters”, Virginia Woolf Bulletin No. 75, January 2024, 28-39.

    Martin presents and discusses two previously unpublished letters, written just after the death of Reginald Heber Macaulay in December 1937 and illustrative of the links between the Stephen and Macaulay families. The commentary leads on to consideration of the contacts and relations between Virginia Woolf, née Stephen, and Rose Macaulay. The article was written at the kind invitation of Sarah M. Hall, the owner of one of the letters.

    A new review of In and Out of Bloomsbury

    Martin’s book In and Out of Bloomsbury, of which full details are given below, under “SEPTEMBER 2023”, is reviewed by Luci Frerichs Parrish in VII: Journal of the Marion E. Wade Center, 39 (2023), pp, e126-e.127.

    She comments: “[It] will have broad appeal among twentieth-century literature scholars and enthusiasts, particularly those who focus on Virginia Woolf, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rose Macaulay, and the Bloomsbury group”, adding that it “achieves what few academic works can boast, which is good critical scholarship from primary sources combined with a biographical sensibility for the casual reader”.

    READ HERE: The review is open access and can be read in full here.

    Diogenes of Oinoanda meeting in Türkiye / Turkey

    On 21 December 2023 a meeting devoted to the Epicurean philosopher Diogenes of Oinoanda was held in Muğla, Türkiye. The first of the four lectures, by Alp Ejder Kantoğlu, was entitled “Martin Ferguson Smith ve Oinoanda’ya Adanan Bir Ömür” (“Martin Ferguson Smith and a Life Devoted to Oinoanda”).

    SEPTEMBER 2023

  • Acclaimed book now in paperback

  • In and out of Bloomsbury: Biographical Essays on Twentieth-Century Writers and Artists. Manchester: Manchester University Press, first published in hardback in July 2021, re-issued in paperback, 27 June 2023. 46 illustrations. ISBN 978-1-5261-7193-1, £20.00 ($29.95).

    “Delightfully written essays packed with revelations”
    Robin Simon, editor of The British Art Journal

    “A wealth of colourful new material”
    Odin Dekkers, former editor of English Studies

    “Fascinating essays”
    Mark Hussey, distinguished Bloomsbury scholar

    The Times Literary Supplement (Vanessa Curtis)

    “A delight from beginning to end”
    English Studies (Marianne Thormählen)

    “Both instructs and inspires”
    Literature Cambridge (Mitchell Alcrim)

    “…will have broad appeal. … achieves what few academic works can boast”
    VII: Journal of the Marion E. Wade Center (Luci Frerichs Parrish)

    *Longlisted for the William M.B. Berger Prize for British Art History 2022

    Diogenes of Oinoanda paper in Turkey (Türkiye)
    Martin was invited to be an honorary guest at the Mavi Anadolu Felsefe Sempozyumu (Blue Anatolia Philosophy Symposium), held in Bodrum (ancient Halikarnassos), Turkey, on 24-25-26 April 2023. The theme of the symposium was: “Yaşam için Felsefe” : Muğlalı/Oinoandalı Diogenes’ten P. Hadot’ya [“Philosophy for Life” : From Diogenes of Muğla/Oinoanda to P. Hadot]. Martin’s paper, entitled “Diogenes of Oinoanda away from Oinoanda” and read in Turkish in his absence, mentioned Diogenes’ inclusion of material derived directly or indirectly from the historian Herodotus, Halikarnassos’s most famous cultural figure. But it focused most attention on Diogenes’ links to the island of Rhodes and Epicurean communities in mainland Greece, before concluding with mention of the philosopher’s philanthropic and cosmopolitan attitudes and their value to the modern world.

    Diogenes of Oinoanda, new
    “Oinoandalı Diogenes Önemi” (çev. Serena Nur Erkızan), Arkhe-logos, Cilt 8, Sayı 15 (ağustos 2023). In Turkish.

    The text of a paper contributed to a colloquium in Muğla, Türkiye, in June 2022. See below, under JULY 2022.

    Diogenes of Oinoanda, forthcoming

    “Die epikureische Inschrift des Diogenes von Oinoanda”, in M. Bachmann (†), J. Hammerstaedt, E Laufer (eds), Oinoanda: Ergebnisse der Surveys 2007-2015: Bauforschung, Archäologie, Epigraphik. Expected in 2024 in the “Istanbuler Forschungen” series, published by Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, Istanbul. Illustrated. With Jürgen Hammerstaedt.
    An exposition and discussion of Diogenes of Oinoanda, with particular reference to new discoveries made during the German-led survey of Oinoanda in 2007-2015. In German.

    JULY 2022

    Article relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic

    “Pandemics, Plagues, and Philosophy: Moral Lessons from Antiquity for the Modern World”, Antigone [online classical journal]. January 2022. Illustrated.
    Epicurean and Stoic philosophers could not offer vaccines or effective medicines to combat plagues and pestilences, but they did offer moral advice to those caught up in such events, and they were concerned to combat the plagues of false opinions that blight the lives and happiness of so many. Their advice is as relevant today as it was in antiquity.

    New article on Diogenes of Oinoanda

    “Diogenes of Oinoanda: News and Notes XIV (2019-2021)”, Cronache Ercolanesi 52 (2022) 383-399. One illustration. A survey of recent work, including details of activities and a critical review of over fifty relevant publications. There is also a tribute to the late Jim Coulton.
    (The article is made available here by kind permission of the editors of Cronache Ercolanesi,)

    Colloquium on Diogenes of Oinoanda in Muğla

    On 10-11 June 2022 a colloquium on Diogenes of Oinoanda, organised by Prof. Dr. H. Nur Beyaz Erkızan, was held at Muğla Sıtkı Köçman Üniversitesi. Muğla is the capital of the Turkish province in which Oinoanda is located. The papers were given by Turkish scholars in Turkish. The colloquium was dedicated to Martin, and a translation of his opening address, on “The Importance of Diogenes of Oinoanda”, was read in his absence.

    In and out of Bloomsbury

    Photo: ©Levent Erkızan

    The holding of the colloquium is testimony to a very welcome growing interest in Diogenes of Oinoanda among Turkish scholars. It is planned to publish the papers with summaries in English.

    August 2021

    New article

    “The Royal Academy of Arts Students’ Clubs, 1883-1902,” The British Art Journal 22, No. 1 (Spring 2021) 78-88. 14 illustrations.
    READ HERE: 20Clubs 20BAJ 20XXII.pdf
    This link is provided by kind permission of the editor of The British Art Journal

    This tale of two clubs is one that has never been told before. Each club had premises close to Piccadilly Circus. The earlier one, established in 1883, was very short lived, but hosted important and influential lectures on art by Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler. The later one, opened in 1889, held regular meetings, especially smoking concerts – a sure sign that only men were eligible for membership! The exclusion of women is considered alongside discussion of their status and discriminatory treatment in the Royal Academy Schools in the nineteenth century. Most of the illustrations are of the posters and invitations designed by the students.

    JANUARY 2021

    1 January 2021 was the centenary of the death of the outstandingly brilliant and successful women’s trade union leader Mary Reid Macarthur (born 1880). She was secretary of the Women’s Trade Union League from 1903 and then of the National Federation of Women Workers, which she established in 1906. She appears prominently in Martin’s biography of her close colleague and friend Madeleine Symons – Madeleine Symons: Social and Penal Reformer, published in 2017. See MODERN, Books.

    In and out of Bloomsbury

    NOVEMBER 2020

    “Fifty Years of New Epicurean Discoveries at Oinoanda”, Cronache Ercolanesi 50 (2020) 241-258.
    The article chronicles the remarkable story of the Greek inscription set up by the Epicurean philosopher Diogenes of Oinoanda (the longest inscription known from the ancient world) from antiquity to the present, with particular focus on the discoveries and rediscoveries made at Oinoanda in the fifty years 1968-2017. Since 1968, when Martin inaugurated new investigations, huge progress has been made. As he points out:

    “The number of fragments [of the inscription] has much more than tripled, from 88 to 305, and the quantity of text has more than doubled, from about 3,550 words to about 8,000. The length of the known parts of Diogenes’ inscription is now only slightly less than the combined length of Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus, Letter to Menoeceus, and Principal Doctrines (Kyriai Doxai).”

    He concludes:

    “Diogenes’ inscription … deserves a special place in the history of classical studies as one of the most remarkable documents to have come down to us from antiquity.”

    In a similar vein, Professor Alexander Verlinsky of Saint Petersburg wrote to Martin:
    “I firmly believe that your Diogenes is one of the most outstanding discoveries in classics of the last two centuries.” (E-mail, 12 November 2017, quoted here with the writer’s kind permission)


    JANUARY 2020

    "A New Look at Diogenes of Oinoanda, Fr. 157 Smith", Hyperboreus 25, 2 (2019) 351-362. 2 figures.

    Contribution to an issue of Hyperboreus dedicated to Alexander Verlinsky, Professor of Classics, State University of St Petersburg, to mark his 60th birthday. The article presents a revised text, translation, and interpretation of a fragment of Diogenes' treatise Old Age - a fragment discovered by Martin at Oinoanda 50 years ago, in 1969.


    DIOGENES OF OINOANDA, FRAGMENT 157 (SMITH), DRAWING (12:100) © Martin Ferguson Smith

    JUNE 2019

    Jürgen Hammerstaedt’s and Martin’s article “Diogenes of Oinoanda: The New and Unexpected Discoveries of 2017 (NF 214-219), With a Re-edition of Fr. 70-72” published in Epigraphica Anatolica 51 (2018) 43-79. Illustrated. The first publication of six new pieces of Diogenes’ philosophical inscription recorded at Oinoanda in October 2017. Two of the pieces (NF 214 and 215) are of particularly great interest and importance. The article includes a revised text of three already-known passages.




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