First published in 1938, John Betjeman's tribute to Oxford and its university life has been reissued as an entertaining and nostalgic period piece. Over a third of the book is devoted to an architectural tour of the town and university buildings, in which factual information is enlivened by anecdotes and accounts of relevant historical events. The text is complemented by a large number of photographs from the period and etchings of town architecture. Who can resist a paragraph which begins: 'Boys, light up your pipes and shove the cocoa cups on the trouser press, spread yourselves out over the bed-sitter, draw up the pouffe, huddle round the gas-ring'? Who can resist, from the appendix entitled 'Notes on Some Oxford Novels', this account of the hero of one such early work of campus fiction: 'Here we have a very bad young undergraduate, with an angel's face . . . . He is a real bad egg, this one'?
The illustrations are part of this book's charm: some of them are Victorian engravings, many of them are witty cartoons by the inimitable Osbert Lancaster, and not a few of them are photographs wonderfully redolent of the age when they were taken.