Maggie Keswick Jencks

Other names: 
Margaret Keswick, Mrs Charles Alexander Jencks
10th October 1941 - 8th July 1995

Margaret, who was known as Maggie, was born at Cowhill Tower near Dumfries on 10th October 1941, only child of Sir John Henry Keswick and Clare Mary Alice Elwes (married 17.01.1940 at Westminster Cathedral). She was brought up in Scotland and the Far East where her father was part of the Scottish business empire, Jardine, Matheson & Company. Maggie read English at Oxford, after attending school in Woldingham, Surrey.

Maggie was...

In 1978 in Los Angeles California she married American born author and landscape architect Charles Alexander Jencks, having met him when she became a member of the Architectural Society. They had two children: John Keswick Jencks, a film producer, and Lily Clare Jencks, a landscape architect.

Maggie was diagnosed with cancer and had little time to live when she used her experiences, in being told about her own prognosis, in developing the idea of opening respite centres for people in a similar situation, run by the Maggie Keswick Jencks Cancer Caring Trust. "It is not a retreat or a hospice or a clinic – it is a drop-in centre and it is free. It offers information, advice on nutrition, relaxation classes and a psychologist for anyone needing to talk about the most intractable subjects (depression, fear of dying, dread of cancer returning and other issues not easy to address in a hospital environment)".

She died on 8th July 1995 leaving a legacy which has spread worldwide. Though the first centre was built in Edinburgh in 1996, followed by Glasgow in 2002, there are currently many more within Scotland, with others being built in England, Wales, Hong Kong and Spain, as well as an online centre.

She is one of the 100 women commemorated in the Travelling the Distance sculpture by Shauna McMullan at the Scottish Parliament: "Her brilliance and humanity inspired her creation of nurturing beautiful places for cancer care" (Veronica Linklater on Maggie Keswick) on Panel 3.

Maggie Keswick
Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres Maggie's centres: how one woman's vision is changing cancer treatment
Observer/Guardian article by Amy Powell Yeates
Travelling the Distance
link from the Scottish Parliament website