Monday, September 18, 2017

WOMEN AT OXFORD | Rhodes, Trinity, St Benet's

On the Trinity wall: Lady Elizabeth Pope (L)
and Anna Thompson. Photos by JT Marlin.
Here are reports on the inclusion of women among Rhodes Scholars and at Trinity College and St Benet's Hall –

Rhodes Scholars.This year is the 40th anniversary of the first women Rhodes Scholars.

Some have already made their mark. One of the 13 women listed attended Trinity College – Bonnie St John.

Clare Booth (top) and Roma
Trinity College. Trinity has replaced for a year all but two of its paintings with photographs of women – the exceptions being the painting of its founder, Sir Thomas Pope, and self-styled foundress, Lady Elizabeth Pope (Sir Thomas's second wife). 

Founded in 1555, Trinity College dates back several centuries more to the beginnings of its predecessor college, Durham, which was on the site for several centuries before Sir Thomas Pope first dissolved it.

Having closed Durham under Henry VIII, Sir Thomas purchased the land. He was a Roman Catholic, and repented of having closed Durham. Under Mary I, of whom he was a mentor, he founded a new college on the emptied Durham property.

Emily Boswell (top) and Kate Mavor.
He called it Trinity College and required its members to pray for his conscience-stricken soul every day, a commitment that the College still adheres to.

Clare Hopkins, the Trinity Archivist, reports that the first women's colleges at Oxford opened in 1879 but women were not allowed to take degrees until the 1920s.

(That is why American suffragist Inez Milholland, when she applied in 1909 to Oxford to study law, was rejected. Instead, she went to New York University, received her degree and became a lawyer.) 

Dame Frances Ashcroft (far left) and Georgia
Queenly, both to the left of Trinity's Founder
 (top) and Foundress.

Hopkins says that the first woman to study at Trinity was Frances Rich of Somerville, in 1885-86, sitting beside the Lecturer's wife. 

Somerville and Lady Margaret Hall were created in 1879. A full century later, in 1979, the first women were admitted, 17 undergraduates and six postgraduates.

The first female Fellow at Trinity was biochemist Sue Kingsman, who was a member of the Governing Body in 1884-97.

The first female President, Hilary Boulding, took up her position during the summer, succeeding Sir Ivor Roberts, who wrote the Foreword to the booklet entitled, with a nod to the past, "Feminae Trinitatis".

The paintings have been replaced by photos of recent alumnae.

The 16 featured women are shown in the 4x4 poster and samples of them on the wall are shown here.

The 16 women are, in alphabetical order: Dame Frances Ashcroft, Siân Berry, Claire Booth, Emily Boswell, Dame Sally Davies, Louise Hardwick, Olivia Hetreed, Zoe King, Kate Mavor, Sarah Oakley, Georgia Quenby, Emily Reynolds, Rosemarie Jordan Shore, Bonnie St John, Roma Tearne, and Anna Thompson.

St Benet's. A year ago, my wife Alice Tepper Marlin and I were privileged to flank the Master of St Benet's, Dr. Werner Jeanrond, at the first Sunday luncheon of the members of the newly coeducational St Benet's Hall, the last of the 44 colleges and halls at Oxford to become coeducational.

St Benet's is one of six remaining Halls at Oxford, although one of them (St Regent's College) is called a college, and one of the colleges (St Edmund Hall) is called a hall. My connection to St Benet's is that for three years I attended Ampleforth College, of which St Benet's is a foundation.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

TRINITY | Alumni Weekend

JT Marlin (L) and Owen Murphy. Photo by
Alice Tepper Marlin. Chris Oakley, far left.
At the annual Trinity Oxford alum dinner, I was seated next to Dr. Owen Murphy, a fellow economist.

Owen grew up in Monaghan (one of the three counties in Ulster Province that is not part of the UK, the other two being Donegal and Cavan) and worked on economic development issues all his life.

We discovered a number of mutual friends, including the late Neal Kearney, a much-respected labor negotiator and director of a large international labor union in the apparel sector. He was also on the Board of Social Accountability International, founded by Alice Tepper Marlin, who took this photo.

Owen was interested in the fact that my father worked for William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan (1883-1959), director of the O.S.S. during WW2. My Dad was in Dublin and London. We talked about Irish neutrality and found out that we both had a connection to Dr. T. Ryle Dwyer, a important expert on British-Irish relations during World War II.

Dwyer wrote an eight-column obituary of my father in The Irish Times, in December 1994. I have looked up what Dwyer wrote subsequently, based on his book, Behind the Green Curtain. [Added based on query in first comment: In the following excerpt from a review, he is critiquing John J. Turi's book accusing Éamon de Valera of being a spy for the British, or something like that. Here is a link to information about Turi's book:]
I argue that de Valera could not have provided more help to the Allies during World War II. But he was acting as head of government and certainly not as a spy.
He authorised Irish diplomats to be used as American spies on the continent. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime forerunner of the CIA, formulated questions that were given to the Department of External Affairs in Dublin. These were sent to the diplomats in Berlin, Rome and Vichy, and Dublin forwarded the replies to the OSS.
This was handled by Joe Walshe, secretary of the Department of External Affairs, in cooperation with Ervin Marlin of the OSS. De Valera was helping the Allies because he believed that the defeat of fascism was in Ireland’s interest.
If he were a British spy, why would Churchill try to help the United States in ensuring that de Valera was discredited in American eyes in order to undermine his influence in there? During various interviews in recent days Turi seemed to be jumping to conclusions as a result of what he did not find, rather than what he actually found.
For instance, he states that there is no record of de Valera being tried by the British in 1916. Given the chaos in Dublin in the aftermath of the Easter Rebellion, one should not attach that much significance to the fact that such records have not been preserved.
Turi seems to think it was sinister that de Valera survived and, worse still, that at the moment of truth the Long Fellow [nickname for de Valera] had no desire to die for Ireland? He had a pregnant wife and three children, and one should be asking questions about his sanity if he had been anxious to be executed.
There was never any suggestion that de Valera’s trial took more than a matter of minutes in the midst of the confusion of the week after the rebellion, and he was the second last commandant to surrender. The last was Thomas Ashe, arguably the most successful commandant, but the British did not execute him either. The main reason has always been that London asked for the executions to be stopped.
While reading a book on Churchill, Turi initially developed an interest in Michael Collins. "I turned to books about him and became totally smitten with this wonderful person."
The more he read about Collins the more de Valera kept coming up. "Every time he came up it was a disaster for Ireland," Turi told the Irish Post. He therefore decided to write about the Long Fellow [de Valera] "because everything he touched was to the detriment of Ireland."
Was de Valera’s seminal role in enlisting the support of the hierarchy against the conscription campaign in Britain’s interest? The British had to abandon their plans for conscription in Ireland.
De Valera "initiated the civil war," Turi told John Green. Nobody has suggested that de Valera had anything to do with the murder of Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson whose death sparked Lloyd George and Churchill to insist on the attack on the Four Courts. Moreover, it was Collins who ordered the attack on the Four Courts, not de Valera.
If de Valera was a British spy, why did they try to undermine his new government in 1932? He insisted that Ireland did not owe land annuities to Britain. Neville Chamberlain, the British chancellor of the exchequer, warned cabinet colleagues that de Valera had a good case and Britain might lose if they submitted the case to international arbitration.
Cumann na nGaedheal pleaded with the British not to give in to de Valera, or they would be undermined, so the British initiated the Economic War. This was clearly to undermine the man that Turi would have us believe was England’s greatest spy.
I cannot remember ever hearing anything about Michael Collins in primary or secondary school. I became interested in him while at university in Texas in 1966. I wrote a master’s thesis on the Anglo-Irish Treaty and could hardly have been more critical of de Valera. 
IT WAS initially because I was so critical of de Valera that I became interested in the American ambassador’s assessment of him in 1940. David Gray wrote then that de Valera was "probably the most adroit politician in Europe and he honestly believes that all he does is for the good of the country. He has the qualities of martyr, fanatic and Machiavelli. No one can outwit him, frighten or brandish him. Remember that he is not pro-German nor personally anti-British but only pro-de Valera."
While writing a doctoral dissertation on US relations with Ireland during the war, I came across Gray’s manuscript for a book that ran to more than 700 pages in typescript. It was a diatribe against de Valera with little historical merit, other than as an insight into Gray’s own twisted thinking.
Turi has been exhibiting the same approach with his unsupported allegations in his interviews. "I list literally dozens of instances in my book where De Valera’s activities benefited England," Turi told the Irish Post. "Yet I could not find one major decision of his that benefited Ireland."
There have always been people who were unwilling to give de Valera any credit for anything, such as those Irish people who essentially invited the British to wage the Economic War in order to undermine the Long Fellow in the 1930s.
For all his failings, and he had many, he made a major contribution to Irish life in taking the gun out of 26-County politics and asserting the country’s political independence.
Moreover, he did a magnificent job in keeping Ireland out of the Second World War.
This story was in the Irish Examiner Saturday, October 31, 2009 (
While looking around for the sources of the the above quote, I ran across the papers of Colonel Dan Brown, which are in the University College Dublin archives. (The full catalog of Dan Brown's papers is here:
The following numbered items in the collection bear on the activities of the O.S.S. and the issue of Irish neutrality. 

1 October 1983- Office of Strategic Studies Operations,15 December 1984 in Ireland 1939-47 Manuscript research notes, draft entitled ‘Possible Project’ and correspondence to Dan Bryan relating to his interest in Irish-American relations during the period. Includes quotations taken from David Gray Papers by Deirdre McMahon in her letter dated 1 October 1983 and letter from E R “Spike” Marlin to Dan Bryan dated 15 December 1984 which discusses P71/ Colonel Dan Bryan Papers.

November 1970- Letters from Thomas Ryle Dwyer, September 1975 49 St Brendan’s Park, Tralee, County Kerry, to Dan Bryan on the subject of Irish-American intelligence co-operation during the Emergency period. Includes photocopies of letters from J Russell Forgan, Deputy Chief of O.S.S. for Europe to Dwyer dated 6 November 1970 and answers by E R Marlin to questions posed by Dwyer on same. In letter from Forgan to Dwyer he states that most of the spies operating in Ireland were ‘doubled. By that I mean that they worked for us and sent their so-called superiors news which we fed them. In that respect they were very helpful to our cause’.

26 June 1985 Cutting from letters to the editor of The Irish Times titled ‘Colonel Dan Bryan’ by E R Marlin, 8 Castle Hill, Berkhamsted, Herts in which he draws the attention of the editor to errors in Nigel West’s books MI5 and MI6. He also takes the opportunity to ‘express my thanks  and appreciation to Col Dan Bryan for the outstanding service he and his organisation rendered his country and mine during World War II by preventing Ireland from being used as a source of information that might have had disastrous effects on the Allies’ conduct of the war’. See also P71/#175, P71/#182.

19 November 1983- M16: 1909-45. 19 December 1986 Manuscript research notes by Dan Bryan and correspondence with Nigel West concerning a book review by Dan Bryan of ‘MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945’ Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson [the Irish Times 19 November 1983]. See also P71/#147, P71/#182.

Photocopy of book review from The Irish Times in which Dan Bryan reviews MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945 by Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. See also P71/#147, P71/#175.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

UNIV CHALLENGE | Trinity Oxford Wins in 1st Round

Jeremy Paxman, Host of University
In the 2017-18 University Challenge, on Monday, September 3, Trinity College, Oxford defeated University College, London (UCL), which has 11,000 in staff serving 35,000 students, by 20 points in the first round of University Challenge.

The full YouTube show is here.

The Trinity team of four included one woman, Nicole Rosenfeld, a rarity in University Challenge. The team was led by James Gunn. Trinity alumnus Ian Senior adds:
He was as quick as Eric Monkman in the previous series but without Monkman’s gargoyle-like expressions of tortured brilliance. Monkman has already secured for himself a BBC radio show, so a bright future may await James Gunn if his team can keep it up.
The 2016-17 Challenge. In the final of the 2016-2017 University Challenge, Trinity College Cambridge defeated Somerville College, Oxford, correctly answering questions on topics from Jane Austen to tea production in countries of the Middle East and central Asia.

Trinity Cambridge Captain Ralph Morley, a Classicist, led his teammates Matthew Ridley (Economics), Filip Drnovsek Zorko (Natural Sciences) and Richard Freeland (Maths).

The win marks the third time Cambridge has won since the BBC series was revived in 1995 and is the third win for Trinity in the 43-year history of the series. A Cambridge team last claimed the title in 2010 when Emmanuel beat St John’s College, Oxford.
Nearly 130 teams entered the series - which is made by ITV Studios - with Jeremy Paxman (St Catharine's 1969) asking 3,039 questions prior to the final. 

University Rankings. In University rankings in September 2017, Oxford prevailed, ranking for the second year in a row as the best university in the world by Times Higher Education. The long-time competitor, "Fenland Polytechnic" (says Ian Senior), came second. Unlike the annual Boat Race, Oxford and Cambridge are not the only two universities considered for the final selection by the Times in their ranking.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

OXFORD | Historical Calendar

4th Annual NYC Area Oxford-Cambridge
Alumni Boat Race, 2008. Naugatuck Rowing
Club, Westport, Connecticut. Oxford mixed boat.
The following historical calendar of Oxford-college- related events is in formation.

Oxford college connections are noted.

11Tolkien Heirs Sue New Line Cinema for $150 Million. 2008, settled 2009. Tolkien attended Exeter, Oxford. Fellow at Merton, Oxford.

23 – Baedeker Raids Start. 1942. Oxford was spared. Why, do you suppose?

1 – Joseph Heller1923. St Catz, Oxford.

1 – Hong Kong Returned to China. 1997. Chris Patten, Balliol, Oxford.

11 – Laurence Binyon, Poet, born.  1869.  Trinity, Oxford 1888.

3 – Stars and Stripes First Flown in BattleLawrence Washington, Brasenose, Oxford.

9 – Noel Godfrey Chavasse. 1884. Trinity, Oxford. Only person to receive the Victoria Cross with bar in World War I.
24 – St Catherine's Feast Day.  St Catz is named after her and her wheel is in the college arms.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

STARS AND STRIPES | Sept. 3 – First Flown in Battle

This day was the first, in 1777, when the Stars and Stripes flag was flown in battle, at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware. 

Patriot General William Maxwell ordered the Stars and Stripes banner to be held aloft as his infantry and cavalry met British and Hessian troops. 

Alas, the rebels were rebuffed and they had to retreat to Brandywine Creek, Pennsylvania, to rejoin General George Washington’s main army. 

Earlier in 1777, on June 14, the Continental Congress had resolved that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, was based on the Grand Union flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes but had a Union Jack in the canton. This flag was the same as the East India Company flag. 

Where did the new 1777 canton of stars on a blue background come from? By legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the stars and the original circle of 13 stars on a blue background. However, this legend is disputed on several grounds, one of which that it didn't surface until years later.

The legend may have been created to disguise the changing of the six-pointed stars to the five-pointed stars on General George Washington's coat of arms. While Washington was decidedly aristocratic in his love of his family arms, his allies tried to play this down to establish his democratic credentials. 

Washington's arms were a legacy from an ancestor who fought at the Battle of Crécy and was awarded with a knighthood, through Lawrence Washington, a one-time don at Brasenose College, Oxford, whose job was to ferret out dissidents under Charles I and who lost his comfortable parish living when Cromwell and his regicides toppled the old order. 

Rev. Lawrence Washington's wife sent their two sons to Virginia to make a better life for themselves than their parents could guarantee. 

In 1818, Congress stipulated that the 13 original stripes be restored and that only stars be added to represent new states. On June 14, 1877, the first Flag Day observance was held on the 100th anniversary of the adoption of the flag. In 1949, Congress designated June 14 as Flag Day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

BIRTH: Aug. 11 – Laurence Binyon, Who Wrote "For the Fallen"

Laurence Binyon
August 11, 2017 – Today is the birthday of poet and playwright Laurence Binyon, born to a Quaker family in Lancaster, England in 1869.  His 150th birthday will be in 2019.

Binyon studied at St Paul's School, London and came up to Trinity College, Oxford as a Scholar in 1888. He read Classics and published his first book of poems as an undergraduate. He won the Newdigate Prize for poetry in 1891.

His first job after taking his degree in 1893 was working for the Department of Printed Books of the British Museum, writing catalogues for the museum and art monographs. His first book, Dutch Etchers of the Seventeenth Century, was published in 1895. In 1913, he was made the Keeper of the new Sub-Department of Oriental Prints and Drawings.

During the pre-war period in London, he helped form Modernism by bringing East Asian visual art and literature to young Imagist poets such as Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington and H.D.  His group, which often met at the Wiener Café, included Edmund Dulac, Lucien Pissarro, Charles Ricketts, Sir William Rothenstein, and Walter Sickert.

On the death of the Poet Laureate Alfred Austin, in 1913, Binyon was among those mentioned as a likely successor, along with Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and John Masefield. Robert Bridges was the winner of the position.

Moved by the high number of casualties of the British Expeditionary Force in the Great War, in 1914 Laurence Binyon wrote "For the Fallen" when he was visiting the cliffs on the north Cornwall coast. Binyon knew Flanders well and was deeply affected by the losses suffered in the early weeks of the Great War. Written only a surprisingly few weeks after the conflict started, "For the Fallen" was published in The Times on September 21, 1914. His prescient words had an immediate impact on the nation’s feelings about the war, as when the poem was published, Britain was mourning its losses in the Battle of Marne. Unfortunately these feelings did not halt the carnage in the trenches.

Within the poem is the "Ode of Remembrance" – an excerpt from the poem,  either the third and fourth stanzas (out of the seven stanzas in the poem) or simply the fourth, starting "They shall grow not old...". Today, "For the Fallen" or the shorter "Ode" is often recited at Remembrance Sunday services in the UK; at Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand, and Remembrance Day services in Canada:
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe. 
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
At centennial remembrances of World War I in 2016, Professor Michael Alexander (Trinity, Oxford 1959), former Berry Professor of English at the University of St Andrews, spoke about Binyon.  He noted that Binyon retired from the British Museum in 1933, and the same year was elected to an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity. Pinyon continued writing and lecturing; in 1939 he delivered the Romanes Lectures, on "Art and Freedom". He died in 1943 at 73. His excellent presentation, which elucidates classical references in Binyon's poems, starts on page 29 of the Trinity College Report.

Poetry Foundation biography

Saturday, August 5, 2017

LIBRARIES: World's Greatest

Duke Humfrey's Library, the oldest Reading Room
 at the Bodleian, in Oxford.
What are the greatest libraries in the world?

The head of the Bodleian at Oxford once said in a speech I attended that the five greatest libraries are in New York City (the New York Public Library), Washington, D.C. (the Library of Congress), London (the British Library), Oxford (the Bodleian), and Paris (the Bibliothèque Nationale). I have library cards for all five of these libraries.👍

Size. Wikipedia says, and I dispute, that the NY Public Library's 53 million books rank it the third-largest cataloged collection in the world after the Library of Congress (more than 160 million items) and the British Library (more than 150 million items). 

If Archives Canada in Ottawa is correctly listed as having 54 million volumes or items, then Ottawa ranks third and NYPL only fourth in the world in collection size – still not shabby for the NYPL. Russia (Moscow Library) is at 44 million items and France (Bibliothèque National) has 40 million items and therefore ranks 6th.

A spokesperson at the Library of Congress told me when I visited in 2016 that libraries disagree on how to count items other than book volumes. The British Library allegedly counts some individual stamps as items equivalent to a book, whereas the Library of Congress combines stamps into albums.

Usability. I would rank the Weston Library, the main reading room of the Bodleian, as the most accessible, followed by the NY Public Library main building, behind the two lions ( The NY Public Library is surely the most used, with annual visitors of 10-18 million (depending on how you count). In second place, at 1.7 million people per year, are the British Library and Library of Congress.

To my mind there is no question that the Bibliothèque Nationale is the most difficult of the five greatest libraries to use, certainly for someone pressed for time. The first day at this library is consumed by paperwork and walking from place to place through fortress-like gates and passageways. It may have just been my bad luck, but I don't think so. have commented on this (

Most Beautiful. Two sites seem to focus on the sheer beauty of the libraries. One list is at, which posts a list of great libraries of the world ( in the hope that you will book a tour of them! Two of the libraries on their list are among the great libraries of the world I have listed above, the Bodleian and the New York Public Library. The three World-Class Libraries that are missing from their list are the Library of Congress (oversight!), the British Library (oversight!) and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

The other list of the most beautiful libraries is by a Huffington Post writer ( It includes only one of the five great world-class libraries, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, which is (yes) a great collection, but, as I have noted, can be a nightmare to try to use. So I take it that this list is for looking at the architecture and not the contents.