- For the Australian actress and writer, see Libby Purvis.
OBE (born 2 February 1950 in London, England) is a British radio presenter, journalist and author. A diplomat's daughter, she was educated at convent schools in Israel, Bangkok, South Africa and France, and then Beechwood Sacred Heart School in Tunbridge Wells.
Purves won a scholarship to St Anne's College, Oxford, where she was awarded a First Class degree in English. She was elected Librarian (effectively Vice President) of the Oxford Union. In 1971, she joined the BBC as a studio manager. In 1976, at the age of 28, she joined Brian Redhead on the BBC's Today
programme, becoming the show's first female presenter. In 1983 she was, during a four month period, editor of the Tatler
She currently presents Midweek
on BBC Radio 4 and the education programme The Learning Curve
. Purves also writes a column for The Times
newspaper. She was named columnist of the year in 1999 and in the same year was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.
She has written a series of books on childcare, eleven novels including Mother Country
, and a travel book, One Summer's Grace
, about a 1700-mile sailing journey round Britain with children aged three and five.
She is married to Paul Heiney and they live near Leiston in Suffolk, close to her mother's home in Southwold. They have one living child, Rose Heiney, an actress and writer, who has also been an occasional columnist for The Times
newspaper. Their first child, Nicholas Heiney died on 26 June 2006 at the age of 23. He hanged himself in the family home after a struggle with serious mental illness. A collection of his sea-logs of a Pacific journey under square-rig, and of his poetry, has been published.
Despite her Roman Catholic faith, she is outspokenly in favour of gay rights, and has written many articles supporting this position. In 2009 Libby debated at the Cambridge Union against Dr Glenn Wilson and Rupert Myers on the motion 'This House Would Rather Be Gay'.
Libby Purves is a keen sailor and has a monthly column in the sailing magazine Yachting Monthly
and is a regular contributor to The Oldie
magazine. She was recently appointed a patron of The British Art Music Series Trust along with James MacMillan and John Wilson. In February 2010 she was appointed The Times
drama critic in succession to Benedict Nightingale.