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Fictional colleges are found in many modern novels, films, and other works of fiction, probably because they allow the author greater licence for invention and a reduced risk of being accused of libel, as might happen if the author depicted unsavory events as occurring at a real-life institution. Below is a list of some of the fictional colleges of the University of Oxford.

His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials novels feature a number of fictional Oxford colleges, most notably Jordan College,[1][2] including:[citation needed]

Inspector Morse

The Inspector Morse series of books by Colin Dexter is predominantly set within Oxford and its environs, including the University. Consequently, many fictional colleges are named. The derived television series, Inspector Morse, Lewis and Endeavour, continued this practice.

T=TV series

Name Source Details Filmed
Alfreda's College Endeavour T: "Fugue" Trinity
Arnold College Inspector Morse T
Baidley College Endeavour T: "Home" Last episode of Season 1 Keble
Beaufort College Inspector Morse T; Endeavour T: "Girl" Named after Henry Beaufort, a Plantagenet royal and Chancellor of the University of Oxford from 1397 to 1399
Beaumont College Inspector Morse novels

Inspector Morse episode ”The Last Enemy” Series 3 Episode 2

Beaumont Street is a short street in central Oxford. One end emerges opposite Balliol's side entrance, and it extends to the front of Worcester. Beaumont Street was formerly the site of Beaumont Palace, perhaps the "location" of the college.
Benison College Lewis, episode "Intelligent Design" Series 7 episodes 5/6
Carlyle College Lewis, episode "The Soul of Genius" Exeter
Chaucer College Lewis Based on Merton College. Named after Geoffrey Chaucer, whose son Thomas also managed the affairs of Henry Beaufort, Oxford's Chancellor.
Courtenay College Inspector Morse T Based on Oriel. Nuneham Courtenay is a village 5 miles south-east of Oxford; in the 14th century, the village belonged to the influential Courtenay family. Nuneham House now belongs to the University.
Gresham College Lewis, episode "Dark Matter" Stand-in for Lincoln. The "Invisible College" was a group of Oxford scientists (including Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren) who went on to establish the Royal Society. The group met at Gresham College in London.
Hescott College Endeavour T: "Confection" Oriel
Lady Matilda's College Lewis episode "Old, Unhappy, Far-Off Things"; Endeavour episode "Home" Amalgamation of Lady Margaret Hall and St Hilda's Lady Margaret Hall
Lonsdale College Inspector Morse novels and subsequent Lewis T College attended by Endeavour Morse. Brasenose
Lovelace College Endeavour TV series; "Game", the first episode of Season 4 St Catherine's
Mayfield College Lewis episode "Life Born of Fire" Mayfield Press is based in Cowley Road; the nearest college would be Greyfriars on Iffley Road. In and around Brasenose
Penville Lewis episode "Old School Ties" The leader of the Oxford Union says she usually lives here; this is presumably a reference to her fictional college.
St Gerard's Hall Lewis episode "Wild Justice" Fictional permanent private hall
Exterior of college filmed at New College, with a barn entrance in New College Lane.
St Edmund Hall and Christ Church
St Jude's College Lewis episode "Generation of Vipers" date=November 2021))
St Saviour's College Inspector Morse, episode "Fat Chance" New College
St Sebastian's College Lewis episode "Lions of Nemea" St Edmund Hall
Savile College Lewis In and around Trinity
Trevelyan College Lewis
Wolsey College Inspector Morse novels and Endeavour Based on Christ Church: Cardinal Wolsey founded Christ Church.

Jude the Obscure

Thomas Hardy's novel Jude the Obscure is set in Christminster, "Wessex", a thinly fictionalized version of Oxford, and mentions the following colleges of Christminster University:[3][4][5]

Loss and Gain

Loss and Gain by St John Henry Newman tells the story of the conversion of Charles Reding, an Oxford student, to Catholicism. In the novel, Newman creates the following colleges:

Other works

Name Details
All Saints College North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Stand-in for All Souls College
Apocalypse College Private's Progress by Alan Hackney
Baillie College Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, attended by successive Cabinet Secretaries, Sir Arnold Robinson and Sir Humphrey Appleby. A very thinly veiled stand-in for Balliol; in several episodes Sir Humphrey Appleby is seen wearing a Balliol tie, and in the 2011 stage play version, Appleby is stated as having gone to Balliol, not "Baillie"
Bartlemas College Kate Ivory detective novels by Veronica Stallwood. Takes its name from St Bartholomew's Chapel, which belonged to Oriel College
Bede College Operation Pax by Michael Innes (pseudonym of J. I. M. Stewart). Allusion to the Old English polymath Bede, whose histories give us the account of St Hilda, from whom St Hilda's College, Oxford takes its name[9]
Brazenface College Verdant Green by Cuthbert Bede. Very thinly veiled reference to Brasenose College
Cardinal College A Yank at Oxford. Based on Christ Church, which was founded by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey as "Cardinal College" in 1525
Clapperton College The Oxford Virus by Adam Kolczynski. Based on Christ Church
Episcopus College Where the Rivers Meet and Comedies by John Wain
Hacker College The Complete Yes Minister
Judas College Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm. Based on Merton College. Referenced in William Peter Blatty's 1960 semi-autobiographical comic novel Which Way to Mecca, Jack?
The King's College (Known as "Dick's" after its founder Richard II) – Colonel Butler's Wolf and Our Man in Camelot by Anthony Price.
"The King's College" is another name for Oriel College; Richard II has no historically significant involvement with Oxford.
Kingsbridge College World Without End and A Column of Fire by Ken Follett
Lancaster College Incense for the Damned, a Peter Cushing horror film set partially in Oxford, based on Doctors Wear Scarlet by Simon Raven
Lazarus College Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
Several novels by Angela Thirkell, beginning with Summer Half (1937)
The Secret World massively multiplayer online role-playing game
Magog College A Study in Sorcery by Michael Kurland/Randall Garrett
Mandeville College The Crime of the Communist, a Father Brown story by G. K. Chesterton
Old College Lot No. 249 by Arthur Conan Doyle
Pelham College The It Girl by Ruth Ware
Pentecost College Montague Egg short story "Murder at Pentecost", in Hangman's Holiday by Dorothy L. Sayers. On the north side of Broad Street, to the east of Trinity.
Persephone College Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay. Women's college based on St Hilda's, Hay's old college
Pitt College Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates
Plymouth College North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell; alludes to Exeter College
Raleigh College The Oxford Inheritance by Ann A. McDonald, and Sophomore Switch (published as Life Swap in the UK) by Abby McDonald
The Royal Institute of Translation Babel, or the Necessity of Violence by R. F. Kuang. Known as Babel. Not strictly a college, as the undergraduate members of the institute live at University College, however Babel is a part of the university.
St Ambrose's College Tom Brown at Oxford by Thomas Hughes. Probably based on Oriel College
St Bride's College Michaelmas Term at St Bride's, by Brunette Coleman (Philip Larkin), St Bride's is recognisably based on Somerville College[10]
St Christopher's College The Case of the Gilded Fly and The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin. Located on the north side of St John's (Crispin's old college) at the junction of St Giles' and Banbury Road
St David's College A Study in Sorcery by Michael Kurland/Randall Garrett
St Frideswide's College What Men Say by Joan Smith
St George's College Yes Minister television series. There was a late-medieval establishment of this name.[11]
St Jerome's College Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton: on St Giles', with echoes of Somerville College (Skelton's alma mater)
The Reluctant Cannibals by Ian Flitcroft (south of the High Street)
St Joseph's College Rumpole series by John Mortimer (in "Rumpole and the Younger Generation", Rumpole is said to have attended the real-life Keble College)
St Jude's College Formosa by Dion Boucicault; August Folly by Angela Thirkell (also in Lewis; see above)
St Margaret's College Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones. Probably based on Lady Margaret Hall
St Mark's College The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford; Patrick Grant crime novels by Margaret Yorke; The Stars' Tennis Balls by Stephen Fry
St Mary's College Sinister Street by Compton Mackenzie (based closely on Magdalen College, Mackenzie's old college, named after St Mary Magdalene)
The Poison Tree by Tony Strong (based on St Peter's College); and Rough Justice by Charles Edward Montague
St Matthew's College The Dimension Riders by Daniel Blythe
St Paul's College Ravenshoe by Henry Kingsley
August Folly by Angela Thirkell
St Sebastian's College Arden St Ives books by Alexis Hall; Hut 33
St Severin's College The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh using Dorothy L. Sayers' characters. On Parks Road, next to Wadham.
St Sexburga's College Horace Sippog and the siren's song by Su Walton
St Simeon's College Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay. Located approximately on the site of Lady Margaret Hall
St Thomas' College An Oxford Tragedy and The Case of the Four Friends by John Cecil Masterman. St Thomas the Martyr's Church is located near Osney, and belongs to Christ Church
Scone College Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh; Something Nasty in the Woodshed and The Great Mortdecai Moustache Mystery by Kyril Bonfiglioli, in whose novels Scone College represents Balliol College. John de Balliol was crowned king at Scone, Scotland in 1292.
Shrewsbury College Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Women's college, based on Somerville College, Sayers' old college, but located on the site of Balliol's cricket ground in Jowett Walk[12]
Simon Magus College Let Dons Delight and The Footsteps at the Lock by Ronald Knox
Stendell College The Gentlemen directed by Guy Ritchie. Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) attends the college on a Rhodes Scholarship and begins selling marijuana while there
Tresingham College The Oxford Virus by Adam Kolczynski. Based on Keble College
Warlock College Landscape with Dead Dons by Robert Robinson
An unnamed college in A Staircase in Surrey, a quintet of novels by J. I. M. Stewart, based on Christ Church, but never named; Surrey is the name of a quadrangle within the fictional college

Fictional library

See also


  1. ^ "A 'His Dark Materials' guide to Oxford". House & Garden. 8 October 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  2. ^ "Pullman brings back Lyra for Oxford mystery". The Guardian. 5 April 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  3. ^ Booth, James (2014) [1895]. "An Exploration of Hardy's Christminster and Larkin's Oxford". The Hardy Society Journal. 10 (2): 92–100. ISSN 1746-4617. JSTOR 48562198.
  4. ^ Hardy, Thomas (August 1994). Jude the Obscure. Retrieved 16 November 2021.
  5. ^ Pinion, F. B. (1968). "Dictionary of People and Places in Hardy's Works". A Hardy Companion. Palgrave Macmillan UK. pp. 278–280. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-00481-2_12. ISBN 978-1-349-00481-2.
  6. ^ Hardy 1994 Part 2 Chapter 6
  7. ^ a b c d e Hardy 1994 Part 6 Chapter 9
  8. ^ Hardy 1994 Part 6 Chapter 11
  9. ^ St Hilda's College History Archived 2010-10-31 at the Wayback Machine,
  10. ^ Motion, Andrew (1993). Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 93–96.
  11. ^ Page, William, ed. (1907). "Colleges: St George, Oxford". A History of the County of Oxford. Victoria County History. Vol. 2. London. pp. 160–161. Retrieved 8 January 2019 – via British History Online.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ Somerville Stories – Dorothy L Sayers Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Somerville College, University of Oxford, UK.