South African-Born Sister Wendy Beckett, Nun and TV Art Critic, Dies at 88

LONDON – Sister Wendy Beckett, a nun and art historian who became an unlikely television star in Britain in the 1990s, died at the age of 88 on Wednesday, the BBC reported.

South Africa-born Beckett was living in a caravan in a Carmelite monastery in Norfolk, east England, when she started studying art in the 1980s, according to the BBC, which broadcast her documentaries.

She was spotted by a film crew at an exhibition and commissioned by the BBC to make a 1992 documentary – “Sister Wendy’s Odyssey” – about paintings and sculpture in six British museums.

She continued to make programs for the next decade, speaking directly to the camera while wearing her black nun’s habit and winning fans in Britain and in the United States, where the programs aired on public television.

In her younger life, Beckett – who was born in SA but raised in Scotland and England – returned to South Africa in the ’50s to teach English and Latin at Notre Dame Convent in Constantia, Cape Town. She later moved to Joburg where she was appointed superior at a convent and lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand, according to Wikipedia.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Hugh Lawson/Reuters and Jenni Baxter/SAPeople)

Sister Wendy Beckett Interview on Charlie Rose