From overfilled satchels to the shelves of the Bodleian library, it is books that make up Oxford’s core. From travellers to students, readers line the streets, sitting in college doorways, hanging out of windows or curled up on park benches, making it difficult to visit the cobbled city of Oxford and not be inspired to pick up a book and get stuck in.
The university’s legacy is not only limited to the unique architecture and beautifully kept gardens, but also remains in the creativity of those who have studied there. And reading the city through the eyes of these great imaginations, one understands a bit more about a place which has inspired countless classics.
Wandering through College quads, it’s easy to find yourself lost in this magical city. While daydreaming past looming spires and down winding lanes you’re likely to be transported to a bygone era of horse-drawn carriages and winged collars.
So let this collection of our favourite Oxford inspired titles enhance your journeys, directing you with the perfect mix of fact and fiction.
Ashmolean : Britain’s first museum
by Ashmolean Museum
From its history to its architecture and curating strategy, discover everything Ashmolean in this celebration of the oldest public museum in Britain.
Oxford: Then and Now
by Vaughan Grylls
Chart the change, or startling lack thereof, between yesterday’s Oxford and today’s with this beautiful photography portfolio.
Zuleika Dobson; an Oxford love story
by Max Beerbohm
Edwardian satire at its best. E.M. Forster described this lyrical evocation of Oxford undergraduate life as having ‘a beauty unattainable by serious literature.’ This mischievous classic is well deserving of such high praise!
The Unexpected professor: An Oxford life in books
by John Carey
Ever wanted to get inside the mind of an Oxford tutor? John Carey’s memoir details the books which made him. Acutely funny and brilliantly sharp – it’s a great way to start you thinking about the books that built your life.
by Phillip Pullman
The sequel to His Dark Materials, Lyra’s Oxford injects all the magic of the previous books into the relatable city. A masterclass in how imagination can alter your perspective of the familiar.
Oxford College Gardens
by Tim Richardson and Andrew Lawson
Oxford’s gardeners are masters in the pristine. Clean-cut lawns reign but this book shows, as Carroll’s Alice knows, how much more there is to marvel at within the ‘beds of bright flowers.’
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Alice is everywhere in Oxford. Walking around Christ Church and the rest of the city, you’ll see rabbit holes, secret doors and hints of Carroll’s much-loved, charmingly quirky fantasy all over.
by Evelyn Waugh
No representation of Oxford is more famous than this classic, and worthily so! Waugh’s wit is cutting, his representation of the ‘charm’ of Sebastian Flyte’s Oxford precise and transporting.
by Graham Byfield
This collection of sketches truly captures the vibrancy of the city as it takes its beholder on a tour of the city’s dreamy spires.