Martin Conway 1952-2022 – A Tribute

Martin Conway was a distinguished member of the BFMS Scientific and Professional Advisory Board. He passed away on Wednesday, 30 March 2022.

Colleagues and BPS members will be saddened to learn that Professor Martin Anthony Conway passed away on Wednesday 30 March 2022. He died peacefully in Newcastle in the company of his wife Judith and his children.

Martin Conway is best known for his work on autobiographical memory, for which he received the British Psychological Society (BPS) Lifetime Achievement award in 2018. He also played a major role in shaping British Psychology more broadly, with periods as the chair of the Association of Heads of Psychology Departments, and as chair of the BPS Research Board. Martin also served on the panel assessing UK research in psychology, neuroscience and psychiatry as part of the Research Evaluation Framework. Martin was a keen poet and had long term collaborations in art with was justly reflected in his fellowship of the Royal College of Arts. He featured regularly in The Psychologist, and the one-on-one article with him published in 2012 led to him being contacted by Judith, an old friend from his undergraduate days, a story which Martin told with delight at their wedding in 2016.

His outstanding scientific work is exemplified by two standout articles: Memory and the self, published in 2005, and The construction of autobiographical memories in the self memory system in 2000. In these seminal pieces Martin set out the dynamic processes and mechanisms by which specific memories are shaped in an organisational hierarchy which has at its core, the self. Two decades later, his insights continue to frame research in autobiographical memory with a richness and clarity of insight unmatched in what is now an immense field of research. His view, expressed with characteristic panache in an article published in The Psychologist in 2006, was that “… memories are not some sort of mental wallpaper that merely provide a backdrop for the self. They are alive, free, sometimes alien, occasionally dangerous mental representations, that can overwhelm as easily as they fulfill.”