Friday, September 03, 2010

A Literary Pilgrimage to Oxford — Martin

When my wife and I were planning our trip to England this summer, I wanted to make sure we visited Oxford. Oxford University has produced so many exceptional and diverse writers such as: W.H. Auden, Lewis Carroll, Evelyn Waugh, Oscar Wilde, A.A. Milne, Dorothy L. Sayers, Jonathan Swift and John Donne — not to mention musicians, preachers and political leaders.

During our brief time, I managed to slip away from our tour to step into the quadrangle at Balliol College where one of my favourite poets — Gerard Manley Hopkins — and one of my favourite novelists — Graham Greene — had been students.

Above all, I wanted to visit a little pub in Oxford informally known as “The Bird and Baby”, but officially named “The Eagle and Child”. This was the place where C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien and others met for years to discuss their writing and to share friendship. Lewis and various members of the “Inklings”, as they were known, met in “The Rabbit Room” of the pub between 1939 and 1962. Today the little room has become something of a shrine.

To enjoy our lunch in “The Eagle and Child” made C.S. Lewis and his friends seem that much closer — especially when it turned out that our waitress was from Calgary. Whenever I have a chance to return to Oxford, with more time to wander, I’ll certainly investigate Magdalen College where Lewis taught, and visit the home he shared with his brother Warnie, “The Kilns” — and I will stop for lunch at “The Bird and Baby”.

As a writer these are all good reasons to travel to a city as inspiring as Oxford.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at:

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Peter Black said...

It warms my heart to have a peek through this window on your visit to Oxford, for right now, my sister and brother-in-law are vacationing with us from Oxford. Norman was chef / catering manager in Oriel College (a college of Oxford University) for quite some years, till his retirement thirteen years ago.
I've not been to that inn, although it would now be a place of interest if I were ever in Oxford again (it's six years since I was my last visit).

Glynis said...

Oxford is exquisite. I lived there when I was a wee lass. It sounds like your visit was memorable and stimulating for your craft. Glad you had a good time and thanks for sharing, Don!

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