Obituary: Professor M. M. Cole
Potter, Robert B., The Independent (London, England)
Monica Mary Cole, geographer: born London 5 May 1922; Research Assistant, Ministry of Town and Country Planning 1944-45; Lecturer, University of Cape Town 1947; Lecturer, University of Witwatersrand 1948-51; Lecturer and Senior Lecturer, Keele University 1951-64; Professor of Geography, Bedford College / Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, London 1964-87 (Emeritus), Director of Research in Geobotany, Terrain Analysis and Related Resource Use 1975-87; Leverhulme Emeritus Professorial Research Fellow 1988-94; died 8 January 1994.
M. M. COLE was a leader in her chosen field of academic research. During her distinguished career she produced pioneering works in the fields of biogeography and geobotany, remote sensing and terrain analysis, and mineral exploration. Her research spanned Central and Southern Africa, Brazil, Venezuela, Australia and, latterly, China and Finland. But Cole was not the archetypal quiet and contemplative academic. She was a larger-than-life character, and things were never dull for those who found themselves around her.
Monica Cole was born in London and attended school in Wimbledon, where she was recognised by her peers as a polymath and gifted at sports. From here she went up to Bedford College, London, which was at that time an all-female college of the university. She graduated in 1943 with a First Class Honours degree in Geography, having taken Geology as a subsidiary. Between 1944 and 1945, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, and it speaks volumes for her perspicacity that, in 1947, she was awarded a doctorate for a study of the economic geography of building materials.
As with so many of her generation of academic geographers, she took up her first lecturing appointment overseas, at the University of Cape Town in 1947. This was short- lived, for a year later she moved to the University of Witwatersrand, where Professor John Wellington headed the Department of Geography. With the early expansion of the redbrick universities, Cole returned to Britain to take up a lectureship at Keele University, where she was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer.
But the most decisive step in Cole's career came when she returned to her Alma Mater, Bedford College, to take up the Chair of Geography. From 1964 to 1975 she was Head of the Department, and she presided over its early expansion. By the early 1970s, Cole had engineered the development of one of the most extensive suites of analytical laboratories to he found in a British geography department. …