‘...some of Oxford’s most prestigious chairs.’

I refer you to Trevor-Roper’s recently published ‘Letters from Oxford’. Adam Fox was Dean of Divinity at Magdalen 1929-42. In 1938 the Professor of Poetry position at Oxford opened to election. In those days those with an Oxford MA who were in Oxford on the day of the election could vote.

The position had been held by Magdalen men (George Gordon, and before him, by Sir Herbert Warren) and things were put in motion to ensure the Magdalen monopoly was not disturbed. There followed a campaign of skullduggery, blandishments both financial and epicurean, and vote fixing which, as one reviewer has said, was more appropriate to a Barchester chronicle than to academia!

Despite not being a poet – his rivals for the accolade were the Shakespearean scholar Sir Francis Chambers and Lord David Cecil, solidly backed by his colleges, Christ Church and New College – the Magdalen candidate won, and Adam Fox was duly installed as Oxford Professor of Poetry.

Adam Fox went on to become a Canon of Westminster Abbey and his ashes are buried – where else - in Poets’ corner.

Dr. Fox, who had a wonderful sense of humour, no doubt found the whole exercise amusing. His wish was that the legend on his stone read ‘A. Fox Gone to Ground.’ The Abbey disagreed. Such shenanigans, of course, could not happen today???

David Cruickshank
(Worcester, 1973)