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In Books & Films

Oxford University is the setting for numerous works of fiction. 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'. As of 1989, more than 533 Oxford-based novels had been identified, and the number continues to rise.

Literary Works Include:


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 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)

  • 'Duns Scotus' Oxford' is one of Gerard Manley Hopkins' better-known poems

Films Set in the University Include

  • A Yank at Oxford (1938), starring Robert Taylor and Vivien Leigh

  • A Chump At Oxford/Related Shorts [1940] starring Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

  • Accident (film) (1967), film about an Oxford don, co-written by Harold Pinter

  • May Morning [1970], a critique of social mores in early 1970s Oxford

  • Incense for the Damned (1972), starring Peter Cushing, Patrick Macnee and Edward Woodward (based on the novel Doctors Wear Scarlet by Simon Raven)

  • Brideshead Revisited [1981], based on Waugh's novel; a mini-series enormously popular in Britain and America, the film has sometimes been seen as drawing unwanted attention to Oxford's stereotypical reputation as a playground of the upper classes. It stars Jeremy Irons, and most college shots are of Christ Church and Hertford.

  • Oxford Blues (1984), starring Rob Lowe, Ally Sheedy and Amanda Pays

  • American Friends [1991], starring Michael Palin

  • Shadowlands (1993), starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger, about the life of C. S. Lewis

  • The Madness Of King George (1994), with Nigel Hawthorne

  • Tom & Viv (1994), a film which explores the troubled relationship between T. S. Eliot (played by Willem Dafoe) and his mentally ill wife Vivienne Haigh-Wood (Miranda Richardson)

  • True Blue (1996), about the mutiny at the time of the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race of 1987

  • James Bond - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a James Bond sequel starring Pierce Brosnan (Bond returns to Oxford to brush up on his Danish.)

  • The Saint (1997), film starring Val Kilmer as the sleuth Simon Templar

  • Wilde (1997), film about the outlandish playwright starring Stephen Fry, Jude Law and Vanessa Redgrave

  • The Red Violin (1998), the violin arrives in Oxford after being given to an English lord

  • Iris (2001), starring Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent and Kate Winslet, about the life of Iris Murdoch

  • National Lampoon's Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj, under the name of "Camford"

  • What A Girl Wants (2003), movie about a vivascious teenager called Daphne who goes to visit her father in London, only to learn he is a lord. In the end she attends The University of Oxford just like her father.

  • Harry Potter - The Great Hall at Christ Church was used as inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall in the Harry Potter films. The staircase leading up to the hall was actually used in several scenes in the films.

  • The Oxford Murders [2008] starring Elijah Wood and John Hurt.

  • The Golden Compass [2007], starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, has scenes that were shot in several Oxford locations, including Radcliffe Square, Christ Church and Exeter College

  • Brideshead Revisited [2008] (film), starring Emma Thompson, has scenes that were shot in several Oxford locations, including Radcliffe Square, Lincoln College, Magdalen College, and Merton College.

A selection of fictional colleges of the University of Oxford

  • Baillie College - Yes Minister & Yes Prime Minister

  • Bartlemas College - Kate Ivory detective novels, Veronica Stallwood

  • Bede College - Operation Pax, Michael Innes (pseudonym of J. I. M. Stewart)

  • Beaufort College - >Inspector Morse TV Series

  • Beaumont College - Inspector Morse novels, Colin Dexter

  • Biblioll College - Jude the Obscure, Thomas Hardy (the thinly fictionalized Oxford is identified as Christminster)

  • Brazenface College - Mr Verdant Green: Adventures of an Oxford Freshman, Cuthbert Bede

  • Cardinal College - A Yank at Oxford (based on Christ Church)

  • Charsley College - The Casual Ward, A. D. Godley

  • Courtenay College - Inspector Morse TV Series

  • Gabriel College - His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

  • Hacker College - The Complete Yes Minister

  • Jordan College - His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (loosely based on Exeter College)

  • Judas College - Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm

  • Lancaster College - Incense for the Damned, a Peter Cushing horror film set partially in Oxford, based on Doctors Wear Scarlet by Simon Raven

  • Lazarus College - Barchester Towers, Anthony Trollope

  • Lonsdale College - Inspector Morse novels, Colin Dexter

  • St Ambrose's College - Tom Brown at Oxford, Thomas Hughes (probably based on Oriel)

  • St Christopher's College - The Moving Toyshop, Edmund Crispin

  • St George's College - Yes Minister

  • St Mary's College - Sinister Street, Compton Mackenzie

  • St Mary's College - The Poison Tree, Tony Strong (based on St Peter's)

  • St Michael's College - His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

  • St Sophia's College - His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

  • St Thomas College - An Oxford Tragedy and The Case of the Four Friends, John Cecil Masterman

  • Scone College - Decline and Fall, Evelyn Waugh

  • Shrewsbury College - Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers (Women's college, probably based on Somerville)

  • Surrey College - A Staircase in Surrey, a quintet of novels by J. I. M. Stewart

  • Warlock College - Landscape with Dead Dons, Robert Robinson

  • Wolsey College - Inspector Morse novels, Colin Dexter (based on Christ Church

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