If there is one thing that I love as much as exploring the world, it’s probably reading. So I was extremely excited to discover that Oxford had been an inspiration for so many amazing books.
Cherry on top of the cake: it seems to have inspired especially epic journeys involving dangerous travels and incredible friendships. Follow me around Oxford and let’s all embark on a literary adventure!
1) Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
Starting with the most famous, follow me on my Harry Potter filming locations journey! Can you associate these different photos with scenes from the movies?
The Divinity School at the Bodleian Library was used in the movies as Hogwarts’ Infirmary. Looking up, you might notice that letters are sculpted in the ceiling of this impressive room. These letters are the initials of all donators who allowed the construction of the building thanks to their generous donations.
While you are at the Bodleian Library, take a minute in the main entrance and have a look at the statue in front of the building. Reminding you of anyone? He is surely looking a lot like Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington, also known as Nearly Headless Nick!
New College Cloisters was used for one of the emblematic scene in Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire. Remember when Moody turns Malfoy into a ferret? Well, that was in that exact cloisters!
Now time to enter one of the most iconic Hogwarts location of all: the Great Hall! Even though a replica was created to film in studio, the original location is in Oxford. Just a look at the Christ Church College dining hall is enough to see the similitudes and be transported in the incredible School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
2. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll also found his inspiration in Oxford to create Alice and its Wonderland. You can find reminders of this fact across the city like these miniatures in the Museum of Oxford.
Charles Lutwidge, Lewis Carroll’s real name, arrived in Oxford to study mathematics at Christ Church in the 1850s. If you wish to follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit-hole, heading to Christ Church Meadow is your strongest chance. Foggy and green, I easily understand how the inspiration came to Lewis Carroll!
Interesting anecdote, the real life Alice who inspired the story, named Alice Liddell, was the daughter of a Dean at Christ Church.
3) The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S Lewis
Another epic saga born in Oxford is The Chronicles of Narnia. C.S Lewis found his inspiration, according to my guide, when he left his college one night.
He stumbled upon these three elements:
A lamp-post, a faun and a lion were all C.S. Lewis needed to bring the amazing world of Narnia to life! The lamp-post being the very first thing that Lucy sees when she goes through the wardrobe to Narnia, the faun being Mr Tumnus, the first character she meets, and the lion being the great Aslan himself of course.
4) The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkiens
Last but not least, Oxford also brought to life the incredible series of The Lord of The Rings. For most of his life, J. R. R. Tolkiens was a professor of English and Literature at Merton College. Having one of the oldest library in the UK, Tolkiens would have spent lots of time reading and studying there to prepare his books.
According to my guide, the twin towers of All Souls College in Oxford are supposed to have given him the inspiration for his second volume called the Two Towers.
So is it a coincidence that all those incredibly epic stories have been written or inspired by Oxford? I don’t think so! If you are experiencing some writer’s block or just want to get some inspiration, you might want to head to The Eagle & Child.
This pub used to host the Inklings, an Oxford writers’ group which included C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkiens, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson. Meeting during lunchtimes at the back of the pub in a room known as the ‘Rabbit Room’, they would read and discuss various materials and manuscripts.
If you don’t feel like writing, it’s still a great place to have some nice food and think about life while feeling inspired by some of the finest writers of Oxford!
Huge Thanks to Premium Walking Tour of Oxford for their great 2 hour-long free walking tour! Starting in front of Oxfam No.17 on Broad Street, at 11am and 2pm everyday, don’t hesitate!