Mary Beard writes job reference for Twitter troll

The Cambridge professor said she didn't think one tweet should 'ruin your job prospects'

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The Independent Online

Mary Beard has revealed a rather unusual way of responding to Twitter trolls – by writing them a job reference.

The Cambridge classics professor, who has been the highly publicised target of misogynistic abuse online, said that she has written references for a young man who once sent her an offensive tweet.

“He is going to find it hard to get a job, because as soon as you Google his name that is what comes up,” she told The New Yorker.

“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.”

The then 20-year-old university student tweeted Beard saying: “You filthy old slut. I bet your vagina is disgusting.”

But he apologised online after the historian and TV presenter retweeted the message, before visiting Cambridge to take her out to lunch. The pair remain in contact.


Beard told how in another incident she forgiven a man who posted online an image of female genitalia edited to look like her face, after he wrote her a letter apologising. 

“He explained his personal circumstances -he was married with kids - and he said how he should never have done it, in a way that was very eloquent.”

However, Beard said she does not want her behaviour to be viewed through the lens of the “long-suffering female parent” scolding her “errant teen-ager”.

"There is something deeply conservative about that reappropriation of errant teen-ager and long-suffering female parent," she said.

"It is rewriting the relationship in acceptable form."