Maurice Bowra was the Warden of Wadham College, Oxford from 1938 to 1970. I once saw him in the pub nearest to Wadham, The King’s Arms. I was going to say simply that I once saw him in the King’s Arms, but that would be, in a way, to out-Bowra Bowra.
Bowra was a distinguished classical scholar, but he is also remembered for his ambiguous sexuality and a handful of witty quotations, some of which derive from it. Here’s a selection:
- I am a man more dined against than dining.
- Buggery was invented to fill that awkward hour between evensong and cocktails.
- With one or two exceptions, colleges expect their players of games to be reasonably literate.
- Splendid couple—slept with both of them (on hearing of the engagement of two of his friends).
- Buggers can’t be choosers (explaining his engagement, later called off, to a plain girl).
- I don’t know about you, gentlemen, but in Oxford I, at least, am known by my face (on covering his head, rather than his middle, when a punt-load of ladies mistakenly entered the stretch of the River Cherwell reserved for male naturists, known as Parson’s Pleasure).