The Warden of Wadham

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).
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Warden of Wadham

  1. In re the last: In Larry Niven’s Known Space universe, the planet Gummidgy has a super-tropical climate and strong UV, so people darken their skin artificially (with melanin pills) and walk around naked except for wraparound sunglasses. As a result, one of the male characters cracks wise that nobody knows you on Gummidgy except the women. (This was before gay sexuality could be openly mentioned in American science fiction.)

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  2. Thank you, John. I am not a reader of science fiction, I fear, but I am glad to hear that humour is not entirely absent in the genre.

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