John Aubrey and the Advancement of Learning by William Poole; The Life of Anthony Wood in His Own Words by Nicolas K Kiessling (ed); A Dodo at Oxford: The Unreliable Account of a Student and His Pet Dodo by Philip Atkins and Michael Johnson (ed) - review by Blair Worden

Blair Worden

Royal and Ancient

John Aubrey and the Advancement of Learning

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The Bodleian Library 111pp £25 order from our bookshop

The Life of Anthony Wood in His Own Words

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The Bodleian Library 256pp £35 order from our bookshop

A Dodo at Oxford: The Unreliable Account of a Student and His Pet Dodo

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Oxgarth Press 151pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

‘Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs.’ On the face of it, Matthew Arnold’s elegiac depiction of Oxford University stands up. In the civil war of the 1640s, Charles I made Oxford his home and ran the royalist war effort from his lodgings in Christ Church. After his defeat, Oxford confronted parliamentarian rule with resourceful obstruction. Even when the victorious Puritans had brought in the New Model Army and had forcibly replaced half the dons, they could not supplant the university’s underlying royalism and Anglicanism. At the Restoration, Oxford’s antiquary Anthony Wood recorded that the rejoicing there exceeded that of ‘any place of its bigness’. The loyalties forged by civil war had come to stay. Under the long Whig ascendancy that followed the Revolution of 1688, Oxford was a bastion of high-church Toryism.

With political conservatism, it has often been alleged, there went intellectual reaction and torpor. In 1683, during the national reaction against Whig moves to exclude the future James II from the throne, the university’s vice-chancellor proudly reported to Whitehall that ‘pernicious books’ by Hobbes, Milton and others had

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