Mary Beard Receives Vile Tweets, Makes Friends, Writes Troll’s Job Reference, Is Nicest Person On TV

The most magnanimous way to deal with internet hate you’ve ever seen. This post contains abusive language.

1. So. Last year, TV historian Mary Beard went on The Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, to talk about the abuse she’d received online.

Stuart C. Wilson

And the irony is, she got sent some really nasty, sexist tweets as a result.

2. Like this one.

As we’ve been reminded this week, prominent women on social media have to deal with this rubbish a lot.

3. So Mary named and shamed the guy who’d sent that tweet.

He turned out to be a 20-year-old from a wealthy family, who’d gone to public school and was a student at Nottingham.

He immediately apologised and deleted his account – Mary deleted the retweet, but not before half of Twitter had, not without good reason, given him hell. His story got covered everywhere, so every time you Googled his name, people saw what he’d done. Lesson learned.

4. But what’s awesome is what happened next.


Which is this: Mary Beard, OBE, blogger, and presenter of the best programme about Ancient Rome there has ever been, took the guy out for lunch.

5. And now she’s told the New Yorker that she’s writing letters of reference for him:

He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up. And although he was a very silly, injudicious, and at that moment not very pleasant young guy, I don’t actually think one tweet should ruin your job prospects.

And as she explains, this isn’t the only time she’s done something like this. She helped another guy out on email who’d previously told her she was “evil”, and tells the magazine: “Now when I have a bit of Internet trouble, I get an e-mail from him saying, ‘Mary, are you all right? I was worried about you.’”

7. Which is cool and all. But let’s also note this, from the same interview:

Some of these adjectives we use, like ‘maternal’—try putting ‘human’ in there instead. If being a decent soul is being maternal, then fine. I’ll call it human.

8. What a great human.

Anthony Harvey / Getty

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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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