Oxford Rogues: Their City, Their Lives
A book by: Rob Walters
Published by Oxface
This book will take you on a journey, a journey through Oxford and a journey through the lives of ten roguish males. All of the men have at least two things in common: a strong association with Oxford, and some claim to be a rogue. They are all famous in some way or another, some tending towards infamy. All but one has spent time at one of Oxford’s famous colleges, though only a few obtained an academic award during their stay in the city.
The stories in this book are rich in human interest, from the sexual romps and salacious poetry of Lord Rochester to the elopements and romantic poetry of Percy Shelley. From the marriages and drinking of actor Richard Burton, to the expulsion and explorations of his Victorian namesake, Sir Richard Burton. From the trail of whoring and infidelity of author Graham Greene to the double-talk and double-dealings of ex-president Bill Clinton. From the drug dealing and identity fraud of Howard Marks to the claims of William Davenant to be the son of Shakespeare. From the greed and arrogance of Robert Maxwell to the addictive gambling of the author of The English Rogue, Richard Head.
The devil would have to cast his net very widely to entrap this lot, though they could all be found within the intriguing streets and eminent building of Oxford at some time in their lives. Those lives are linked by the locations that most characterised their stay in Oxford, thus creating a unique trail through the ‘city of dreaming spires’ and an opportunity to stop and wonder at the buildings that grace its golden heart.
The men of this book are as complex as the city, their characters forming a patchwork upon which to establish a trail that is quite unique. Their lives are differently characterised by: aesthetics, creativity, humour, intoxication, romance, licentiousness, avarice, desire, ambition, daring and lawlessness. And through them all runs this roguish streak, a trait that charms forgiveness from those who are damaged by them - though not always.
Like the streets of Oxford, rogues can turn. A charming alleyway can become the scene of a rape; a poet can suddenly take out a loaded pistol. A friendly pub can suddenly become the scene of a riot; a night of love can be the seed of a wasting disease. A leafy tree can fall and crush a beautiful young woman; a happy drunk can become a pugilist. It is this edge that makes a rogue dangerous to live with – yet interesting to read about.
ROGUERY IN OXFORD
THE LIBERTINE: LORD ROCHESTER
THE ACTOR: RICHARD BURTON
THE EXPLORER AND PORNOGRAPHER: SIR RICHARD BURTON
THE AUHTOR: GRAHAM GREENE
THE DRUG DEALER: HOWARD MARKS
THE ROGUE WRITER: RICHARD HEAD
THE POET LAUREATE: SIR WILLIAM DAVENANT
THE MEDIA MOGUL: ROBERT MAXWELL
THE PRESIDENT OF THE USA: BILL CLINTON
THE ATHEIST AND POET: PERCY SHELLY