Oxford Fiction – A Round Up!

With the bid decision drawing close, I thought a last post to round up some great Oxford fiction would be in order as I go on holiday tomorrow for a fortnight: when I return, there won’t be long left until the verdict so some supporting information about the city in general and why we deserve to win will be my priority then – fingers crossed that we’ll have done enough!

A previous post featured crime author Val McDermid’s top ten novels set in Oxford, a list in which I noticed two more contemporary stories that deserved a mention amongst the primarily older and better-known works that have been my main focus. Connie Willis’ ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ is a science-fiction fantasy in the guise of an old-fashioned Victorian novel, in which time travel romantic comedy, allusive literary games and a huge dose of imagination create an unusual, original and highly inventive work that will certainly appeal to those who like something a bit different. Iain Pears’ ‘An Instance of the Fingerpost,’ on the other hand, is more of your typical murder mystery but is a great read nevertheless; whilst working at Felicity Bryan Literary Agency, who represent Pears, I had the pleasure of reading several of his books and truly enjoyed the experience.

Within my book posts, I have barely even skimmed the immense canon of fictional masterpieces that bear a relation to Oxford, whether through author or plot. Indeed Oxford University alumni alone include numerous literary giants that I haven’t covered such as W.H. Auden, Kingsley and Martin Amis, John Betjeman, Wendy Cope, Robert Crawford, James Fenton, John Fuller, William Golding, Robert Graves, Geoffrey Hill, Aldous Huxley, Philip Larkin, Frances Leviston, Peter McDonald, Glyn Maxwell, Andrew Motion, Tom Paulin, Philip Pullman, Craig Raine, Helen Simpson, John Wain and Jeannette Winterson.

This I think is a testament to such strong literary roots; very few cities can boast a bookish background that rivals that of Oxford. That the city is second only to London as a publishing hotspot; boasts numerous book collections such as the African Books Collective, the Voltaire Foundation and the Booker Prize Archive; and contains a fantastic range of major and independent bookshops are also undeniable indications, not to mention the fact that it is one of the world’s most renowned and successful centres of learning and has a strong international vibe as a result (both of which will be celebrated if the bid is successful with some great iniatives concerning the recognition of Oxford’s contribution to language through the Oxford English Dictionary and a focus on developing new inroads into translation.)

More on some of the bid’s great initiatives in a couple of weeks – for now, I hope I’ve inspired readers to try some great classics and increased awareness of just how much this beautiful city has, and will continue, to offer in the fascinating world of books.


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