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Poets Laureate

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Oxford University is the oldest in Britain. The university now has 38 colleges (in 2008 Green and Templeton Colleges merged) (see the list of colleges).

The colleges
Nineteen of these 38 colleges were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries, whilst the other 19 have foundation dates stretching back as early as 1249, the year the oldest college - University College - was founded.

Many of the foundation years given for the colleges don't reflect the fact that they often replaced even more ancient halls of residence, used by students who studied in Oxford before the college system had even developed. These institutions often date back into the 11th century or further.

Oxford University - especially its older established colleges - has seen many of its former students go on to achieve notable things.

No degree
But a successful completion of their studies was not always necessary for former students to achieve success in life. The Poet Laureates
Sir William D'Avenant, Robert Southey and John Betjemen, the poet Percy Shelley and the writers Samuel Johnson and Robert Graves all left Oxford without a degree. A degree also eluded Edward VII, the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the founder of the US state of Pennsylvania William Penn and the Elizabethan adventurer Walter Raleigh.

It wasn't until 1879 when Lady Margaret Hall and
Somerville College opened that women were finally admitted to Oxford. Since then graduates have included the first British woman to win a Nobel Prize, Dorothy Hodgkin; Britain's three women Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Liz Truss; the writers Iris Murdoch and Dorothy L. Sayers; India's first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and the Burmese winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The following list shows the 38 colleges, grouped by the century in which they were founded.

The colleges founded before the 18th century include information on a selection of famous people who have been connected to the college and links to the college website and its history webpage.

The colleges founded since 1700 have links to their websites.

The 38 Oxford Colleges


13th century


University College
Founded: 1249

Balliol College

Founded: c. 1263

Merton College

Founded: 1264

14th century


Exeter College
Founded: 1314

Oriel College

Founded: 1326

Queen's College

Founded: 1341

New College
Founded: 1379

15th century


Lincoln College

Founded: 1427

All Souls College

Founded: 1438

Magdalen College

Founded: 1458

16th century


Brasenose College
Founded: 1509

Corpus Christi Coll.
Founded: 1517

Christ Church

Founded: 1546

St John's College
Founded: 1555

Trinity College
Founded: 1555

Jesus College
Founded: 1571

17th century


Wadham College
Founded: c. 1613

Pembroke College
Founded: 1624

18th century

Worcester College
Founded: 1714

19th century

St Catherine's College
Founded: 1868

Keble College

Founded: 1870

Hertford College

Founded: 1874

Lady Margaret Hall
Founded: 1879

St Anne's College

Founded: 1879

Somerville College

Founded: 1879

Mansfield College

Founded: 1886

St Hugh's College

Founded: 1886

Harris Manchester Coll.

Founded: 1889

St Hilda's College

Founded: 1893

20th century

St Peter's College

Founded: 1929

Nuffield College

Founded: 1937

St Antony's College

Founded: 1950

St Edmund Hall

Founded: 1957

Linacre College

Founded: 1962

St Cross College
Founded: 1965

Wolfson College
Founded: 1965

Kellogg College
Founded: 1990

Green Templeton College
Founded: 2008

14th century
Exeter College A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Exeter College was founded in 1314 as Stapledon Hall by Walter de Stapledon, a Devon man who later became Bishop of Exeter.

For the first few centuries of its existence the college took its students mainly from the counties of south-west England and especially Cornwall and Devon with the aim of training them for the clergy.


Artists and Architects

William Morris Artist
Undergraduate, 1853-56


Hubert Parry Composer
Undergraduate, 1867-70
Heather Professor of Music, 1900-08

Nobel Prize Winners

Cyril Hinshelwood Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1956
Fellow, 1937-64
Professor of Chemistry, 1937-64

Writers and Poets

J.R.R. Tolkien Writer
Undergraduate, 1911-15 MA, 1919
See Pembroke College

Oriel College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Oriel College was founded by Adam de Brone in 1326.


Explorers and Adventurers

Walter Ralegh Adventurer
Undergraduate, 1568?- No degree

Nobel Prize Winners

Alexander Todd Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1957

James E. Meade Nobel Prize for Economics, 1977
Undergraduate, 1926-30

Writers and Poets

Matthew Arnold Poet
Fellow, 1845-52
Professor of Poetry, 1857-67

Queen's College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Queen's College was founded as the Hall of the Queen's Scholars of Oxford by Robert de Eglesfield in 1341. He named it after the then Queen Philippa who was royal consort to
Edward III.

For many centuries the college took many of its students from the ancient counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (now Cumbria) and later also from Yorkshire.


Inventors and Scientists

Oliver Sacks Neurologist / Writer
Undergraduate, 1951-54

Writers and Poets

Edmund Blunden Writer
Undergraduate, 1919-20
Professor of Poetry, 1966-68
See Merton College

New College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

New College was founded by William of Wykeham in 1379 as a college to train the future clergy and to replace those clergymen who had died in such numbers during
the Black Death.

Many of its students came from Winchester College in Hampshire.


Famous People

Isaiah Berlin Philosopher
Fellow, 1938-50

Nobel Prize Winners

John Galsworthy
Nobel Prize for Literature, 1932
Undergraduate, 1890-94

Writers and Poets

Robert Penn Warren Writer
Rhodes Scholar, 1928-30

John Fowles Writer
Undergraduate, 1947-50

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