Roedean School, Brighton, is a girls’ day and boarding, independent school with a reputation for producing bright, ambitious young women. Throughout the years, Roedean has amassed an impressive list of alumni who have gone on to excel across many industries, pushing the boundaries for women in fields like education, politics, sport, science, media, and more.
From actresses to artists and writers to filmmakers, here, we’ll look back through Roedean School history at five of its most notable alumni who pursued careers in the arts.
- Enid Marx
Painter and designer Enid Marx is best known for her industrial textile designs for the London Transport Board. She was the first female engraver to receive the distinguished status of Royal Designer for Industry by the British Royal Society of Arts. Marx attended Roedean School from 1916 until 1921, where she partook in a range of artistic studies, including printing, carpentry, and life drawing. During her career, Marx taught (and was a prolific artist in) visual arts and industrial design.
- Phyllis Pearsall
Today considered one of the most successful business people of the 20th century for founding the Geographers’ A-Z Map Company, in the 1930s, Old Roedeanian Phyllis Pearsall became lost in London while using an old map. This inspired her to produce a new map of the city, noting places of interest and transport routes. The work saw Pearsall walk 3,000 miles and check 23,000 streets to complete the project, which involved 18-hour days starting at 5 a.m.
- Tessa Dahl
A well-known alumna from Roedean School history, Tessa Dahl is the second daughter of author Roald Dahl and actress Patricia Neal. Acting and writing run in the Dahl family: She is a former actress of the 70s silver screen, as well as a published children’s author. Some of her children’s fiction books include Gwenda and the Animals, which won the Friends of the Earth Best Children’s Book of the Year prize. Dahl is also a journalist who has written for publications like Vogue, The Sunday Times, and The Daily Telegraph. For several years, she was a contributing editor for Tatler magazine.
- Zina Saro-Wiwa
Nigerian-born Zina Saro-Wiwa is a video artist, filmmaker, and founder of the politically subversive alt-Nollywood movement. She attended Roedean School before going on to study economic and social history at the University of Bristol. A former BBC journalist, Saro-Wiwa now specialises in documentaries, music videos, and experimental films. In 2011, The Times named her one of the top 25 leaders of the African Renaissance.
5. Beatrix Ong
Beatrix Ong MBE is a luxury fashion accessories designer whose work has featured in Vogue, Elle, and Vanity Fair. Born in London, Ong attended a school in Hong Kong before relocating to Brighton and becoming a Roedean student. Known as “The New Choo” for her “classic with a twist” shoes, in 2004, The Independent named Ong one of the top 10 leading shoe designers alongside household names like Manolo Blahnik.
About Roedean School and Its Holistic Educational Approach
Since its launch in 1885, Roedean has sought to provide a holistic, high-quality education that prepares girls for successful futures whatever their goals. Roedean students feel challenged and supported as they develop their strengths and interests within a caring, friendly community, set against an inspiring coastal setting, just east of Brighton. While students excel in exams, the School encourages girls to look beyond academics to pursue an all-round educational journey where they build resilient, compassionate characters, lifelong friendships, and a strong sense of belonging and pride in themselves and their school.Learn more about Roedean School history.