University of Oxford in popular culture

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The University of Oxford is the setting for numerous works of fiction. Quickly becoming part of the cultural imagination, Oxford was mentioned in fiction as early as 1400 when Chaucer in his Canterbury Tales referred to a "Clerk [student] of Oxenford": "For him was levere have at his beddes heed/ Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,/ of Aristotle and his philosophie/ Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie". By 1989, 533 Oxford-based novels had been identified, and the number continues to rise.[1]

In literature[edit]

Literary works include:

Fictional universities based on Oxford include Terry Pratchett's Unseen University and "Christminster" in Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure. For a list of fictional colleges of the University of Oxford, see List of fictional Oxford colleges.

In poetry[edit]

Many poets have also been inspired by the University:

  • The Oxford Sausage was an anthology published in 1764 and edited by Thomas Warton. The Glamour of Oxford (1911) is a collection of verse and prose edited by William Angus Knight, and another anthology — Seccombe and Scott's In Praise of Oxford (1912) — spans two volumes. More recent compilations include Oxford and Oxfordshire in Verse (1983) and Oxford in Verse (1999) (see 'Further Reading').
  • 'Duns Scotus' Oxford' is one of Gerard Manley Hopkins' better-known poems.

In films[edit]

Films set in the University include:

This list does not include movies in which university buildings appeared as a backdrop but were not depicted as the University of Oxford, such as the Harry Potter films and the earlier Young Sherlock Holmes.

In television[edit]

In other media[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Oxford in Fiction: an annotated bibliography, Judy G. Batson
  2. ^ Somerville Stories – Dorothy L Sayers Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Somerville College, University of Oxford, UK.
  3. ^ Motion, Andrew: Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), pp. 93–96