Watch CBSN Live

Sister Wendy Beckett, BBC art historian, is dead at 88

Unlikely TV star Sister Wendy Beckett, a nun who hosted several art history programs on the BBC, died Wednesday at the age of 88, the network confirmed. Beckett rose to fame in the 1990s as she hosted unscripted BBC shows from galleries and museums around the world. 

Beckett died at the Carmelite Monastery in Quidenham, U.K. The BBC reports that Beckett was born in South Africa, and moved to Edinburgh as a child. She joined a convent when she was 16. 

BBC director of arts Jonty Claypole said Sister Wendy had "a unique presentation style, a deep knowledge of and passion for the arts," adding, "She was a hugely popular BBC presenter and will be fondly remembered by us all." 

In 1950, Beckett's order sent her to Oxford University. There, Beckett stayed in a convent and studied at the school, earning a Congratulatory First Class degree in English literature. In the 1980s, she was given permission to study art, which she did mostly through books and reproductions. Later, she wrote a book called "Contemporary Women Artists" to earn money for her convent. 

She continued to write articles and books, and in 1991, the BBC asked her to present a TV documentary on the National Gallery in London. In her programs, Beckett wore her nun's habit and talked about different works of art without scripts or teleprompter. 

Beckett's shows included "Odyssey," "Sister Wendy's Grand Tour" and "Sister Wendy's Story of Painting."

View CBS News In