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  • Writer's pictureLilium

Oxford Wits - Muses & The Beau Monde

Byron and Desmond Parsons in China sometime prior to 1937

The Oxford Wits were an identifiable group of literary and intellectual aesthetes and dandies, present as undergraduates at the University of Oxford in the first half of the 1920s. Though they were not known by this term at the time.

Their leader in fashion was Harold Acton, but their later leader in intellectual matters was more noticeably Maurice Bowra.

Their attitudes were those portrayed and parodied in the nostalgic Brideshead Revisited of Evelyn Waugh, the most important literary figure to emerge from the group.

Others who are cited as Oxford Wits are:

John Betjeman

He was an English poet, writer, and broadcaster who described himself in Who's Who as a "poet and hack". He was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1972 until his death.

Robert Byron

A British travel writer, best known for his travelogue The Road to Oxiana. He was also a noted writer, art critic and historian.

Cyril Connolly

He was an English literary critic and writer. He was the editor of the influential literary magazine Horizon (1940–49) and wrote Enemies of Promise (1938), which combined literary criticism with an autobiographical exploration of why he failed to become the successful author of fiction that he had aspired to be in his youth.

Brian Howard

He was a flamboyant English poet and later a writer for the New Statesman.

Alan Pryce-Jones

He was a British book critic, author, journalist and Liberal Party politician. He was notably editor of The Times Literary Supplement from 1948 to 1959.

John Sparrow

He was an English academic, barrister, book-collector, and Warden of All Souls College, Oxford, from 1952 to 1977.

John Sutro

He was a British film producer. He produced seven films between 1941 and 1951. He was a member of the jury at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival.

Middle row, second from the left, John Sutro,

Christopher Sykes

He was an English author. His sister was Angela Sykes, the sculptor. His uncle, also Christopher Sykes, was, for a time, a close friend of Edward VII.


Below is part 1 of a short film by John Betjeman - "Thank God it's Sunday!", 1972. It has nothing to do with Oxford but it shows some very interesting characters all on a Sunday trip to the seaside that I thought might cheer up the newly housebound. Being at home for an invalid like myself is barely a drop in the ocean. Keep an eye out for the dog in the wheelchair!


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