Date of release: Friday, July 20, 2018

"It's because of this university that I'm a published writer," says author Nina Stibbe, who receives an honorary degree today (Friday 20 July).

She is best known for Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life, her tale of life as a nanny in the north London literary set, which became a BBC series in 2016.

Nina, pictured with Vice-Chancellor Professor David Maguire, earned a humanities degree in 1987 at Thames Polytechnic, as the University of Greenwich was then known.

"I left school early and thought I was so clever because I was earning money but it was a huge mistake," she says. "My friends started going to university and doing interesting things, which were all closed to me.

"I was desperate just to give myself some options and people were saying you can't go to university because you didn't finish school.

"I applied to Greenwich anyway and the interview went really well – I just knew this was where I wanted to be. It was a huge privilege – a real joy – to be able to read and learn and talk about books."

As she got more involved in the course, Nina found one class that was the kick-start for a literary career that saw her work in publishing before becoming an author.

"I did a course on autobiographical writing because I felt like I'd had an interesting life," she adds.

"Most of my essays were generally B- or C+, which I was happy with. Then my lecturer Peter Hunn gave me an A. He wrote on the paper, which I still have: 'This is a very fine piece of work.'

"I couldn't believe it. It was him that told me I should think about writing – without Peter I wouldn't be a published writer."

Ahead of receiving her Honorary Doctor of Letters award, Nina says to those coming to university: "Enjoy it and don't do the minimum. Just putting a little bit more in will make a big difference."

Earlier this week, the Bishop of Newcastle Christine Hardman became an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration.

She said: "It's a long time since I was last here as a student. Congratulations to everyone graduating – you've worked so hard. Look forward with courage and excitement and be the future you want to see!"

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