Guide to an Unknown University

‘This is the most interesting and memorable guide to Oxford that you will ever come across: a guide not to its ancient monuments but to its most important elements: minds, young and old.’ Christina Hardyment, Oxford Today magazine

Guide to An Unknown University, edited by Roman Krznaric, Christopher Whalen and Theodore Zeldin, published by The Oxford Muse, 2006.

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About Guide to an Unknown University

Discover the secrets behind the facade of an ivory tower

Introduced by acclaimed historian and broadcaster Theodore Zeldin, Guide to an Unknown University is an intimate portrait of the University of Oxford, revealing the thoughts, feelings and imaginations hidden within it.

What kind of human beings inhabit and inspire the University of Oxford? In what state do they emerge from it? What is most important to them and what is missing from their lives? This book unveils what they seldom make public, presenting them not as statistics or stereotypes, but as unique individuals. Hear the voices of porters and students alongside those of professors and college masters. Each speaks in their own words, uncensored.

  • How a specialist in brain diseases cultivates his own mind
  • How an undergraduate lives in doubt, in rebellion and in an imagined world
  • Why a college porter writes poetry
  • How polio has and has not coloured a professor’s life
  • What motivates a government advisor, head of an Oxford college
  • Why a former management consultant has returned to study history
  • Why I painted my face, tooth and glasses black
  • Why diary-writing and navel-gazing do not tell you who you are