October 3, 2012

Dr. Croft, I Presume?

Guest blogger, Ostercy, creator of Ostercy's Tomb Raider Fables and webmaster of Not Culturally Relevant, attempts to solve the mystery of Lara's post-secondary education.

Dr. Croft, I presume?

I have been living with half a memory of somebody calling Lara Croft "Dr. Croft", but I couldn't recall where from. Did Lara ever go to University? Did she study archaeology? I decided to investigate.

According to an interview with Vicky Arnold, original Tomb Raider writer; "Although Miss Croft never attended a university as a full-time student, she did derive much of her knowledge of archaeology and anthropology from some of the most prestigious universities in Britain through correspondence and posting her work straight in from the field." [1] It seems pretty clear from this (and other sources) that Lara wasn't an undergraduate in archaeology or anything else.

I'm still racking my brains…. Dr. Jonathan Reiss…. Dr. Mark Willard…. Dr. Dre Beats. I must be suffering from a senior moment.

Lots of fanfiction (including my own) refers to "Dr. Lara Croft", as do some websites – "Fearless Dr. Croft takes her high definition adventures to exotic locales. Tomb Raider: Underworld arrives in stores next Tuesday, November 18th." [2]

Moving on to (or sideways to) the Crystal Dynamics bios, there's "university peer" Anaya Imanu. Quite a lot of sites quote this text that originated from Legend; "Anaya is a civil engineer working in impoverished areas of South America. She's an old friend of Lara's dating back to their days at university, and she was with Lara during the tragedy near Segou. She has since led a distinguished career of her own, routinely crossing paths with Lara." So…Lara wasn't a university undergraduate according to Core but she had "days at University"? Postgraduate days, perhaps?

Slightly dottier, from the Legend Wikipedia page; "A teenage Lara was on an archaeological excavation with her university colleagues, where she and Amanda (Evert) witnessed an unknown demonic entity kill the rest of the team." [3] Kind of hard to see how a teenage Lara could have "university colleagues" but Wikipedia says it, so it must be true.

On the other hand there's this blurb quoted by many of the previewers at E3 2012; "Lara Croft is 22 years old, straight out of university and on the trail of adventure with her mentor Roth in tow." (See, for example, Infinite Lives. [4]) Oh what a tangled web! I suppose since most English undergraduates are aged 18-21, it's just possible that Lara was a first year archaeology postgrad at 22 (?).

And we have this from Dr. Colin Dray, a Lecturer in Literature at Campion College of the Liberal Arts, Australia; "The Lara Croft of old was an impossibly fantastical creature.  Statuesque, resourceful, quippy, with a handful of PhDs in pseudo-psycho sci-history and fabulous wealth and beauty." [5] Not very helpful to our investigation.

You could ask Alison Carroll, but she probably still hasn't "done her course" yet. [6] At least it indicates that at some point the game developers (like everybody else) thought of Lara as an archaeologist and not, say, an anthropologist or a business studies major.

Finally there's this frankly bonkers entry from Tomb Raider Forums and "British Consulates," not a reliable source for factual information; "all the while continuing her education at Oxford, then at the University of Chicago." [7, 8] I cannot imagine what on earth Lara would be doing in Chicago. Perfecting her American accent perhaps? Buying semi-automatic weapons?

Oh well. I know when I'm beaten. There's solid evidence that Lara studied archaeology at or near University perhaps, but no PhD. Unless you know different?


1. "Lara Croft - Biographical Sketch". Tomb Raider's Travelers Guide.

2. "Video - Tomb Raider's Lara Croft Attacks the Underworld!" Newsarama.

3. Tomb_Raider:_Legend - Wikipedia.

4. Scarborough, David. June 10, 2011. "Empire at E3 2011: Day 3 - Tomb Raider". Infinite Lives.

5. Dray, Colin. July 21, 2012. "Scraping Lara Croft Off The 'Boot' Of Her Gaming Reboot". WhatCulture!

6. "Lara Croft: Køn - men ikke særlig dyb". November 4, 2008. Ekstra Bladet.

7. "Detailed Biography" posted January 14, 2006, by AnthonyShock1515. Tomb Raider Forums.

8. "Lara Croft". British-Consulates.com.


  1. According to the WikiRaider, Lara, after her expedition with Von Croy, "...resumed her studies, attending Gordonstoun Boarding School, in Scotland, where she discovered her love for climbing, water sports, horse back riding and archery." (http://www.wikiraider.com/index.php/Lara_Croft_(Classic)).
    There is no mention of a uni, though.

  2. Thanks for the info.
    There's another article at notculturallyrelevant.com called "Blooding Lara" that lists the classic early chronology if you're interested.

  3. Although I lecture at a UK university, I would point out that one does not need to go to University to get a PhD.

    It won't be a PhD by research of course, but there are institutions offering a PhD for 'Life Experience' (for a fee of course). There is also the D.Litt. (lat. Litterarum doctor) for outstanding research and publications (it's above PhD in UK, but an honorary title in the US).

    Perhaps Lara could be given one of them, if Core or Eidos wished to pay for it, or list her publications ...

    Dr Croft, I presume.

  4. A fair point. However, I'm not sure if classic Lara, being from a conventional aristocratic background, would regard that as worth doing. New 'Lara', however - I have no idea. She's such a Mary-Sue she's probably got a mail order Bachelor of Science in Communication from the University of Phoenix.

  5. Lara certainly is not into publications, because they become public domain: to be represented by whoever as long as they pay the University system. Lara probably instead works as a software engineer, based on her own results instead of wallpaper.

  6. I have always presumed that Lara had at least an undergraduate degree.Plus I have romantic notions of her wading through old dusty libraries!