MS 61, New College Library, Oxford
Listen to our podcast series of Fellows and Old Members reading short passages of writing that are significant to them.

Our readings have been published regularly over twelve months — from May 2020 up until April 2021 — building into a collection which will remain here for you to enjoy.

In ‘The Fine Art of Reading’, his 1949 inaugural lecture as Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at Oxford, New College Fellow, Lord David Cecil, wrote:

“There are as many different kinds of good books as there are different kinds of good writer.  Each has something to give us.”

Here we invite you to listen to and enjoy some of the many different kinds of writings which our Fellows and Alumni have chosen to read for you. 

 

Dominic Selwood reads to you

Historian, author, journalist — and New College, Oxford alumnus — Dominic Selwood, reading a very short story, ‘The Witness’, by the Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986)


 

Dominic Selwood reads to you

Dominic Selwood — an author, historian, and journalist, who carried out his DPhil research at New College, Oxford — reading from his forthcoming book, to be published in September 2021 — Anatomy of a Nation: British Identity in 50 Documents (Constable, 2021)


 

Martin Gibson reads to you

The barrister and writer, Martin Gibson — who read History in the 1980s at New College, Oxford — reading from The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), the only novel of Irish playwright and writer, Oscar Wilde (1854–1900)


 

Martin Gibson reads to you

Martin Gibson — barrister, writer, and New College, Oxford alumnus — reading from his biography of Liberal politician Neil Primrose (1882–1917), A Primrose Path: The Gilded Life of Lord Rosebery’s Favourite Son (Arum Press, 2020)


 

Catriona Kelly reads to you

Catriona Kelly — Professor of Russian at the University of Oxford and Fellow of New College, Oxford — reading from Loving and Giving (1988), a novel by Molly Keane (1904–1996)


 

Donatien Grau reads to you

Scholar and writer, Donatien Grau — who holds a DPhil from New College, Oxford — reading from his memoir from his time with the couturier, Azzedine Alaïa, La Vie Alaïa (2020)


 

Andrew Caldecott reads to you

Andrew Caldecott QC, barrister and novelist — who read history at New College, Oxford, 1970–1973 — reading from Rotherweird, the first volume in his Rotherweird trilogy of novels


 

Donatien Grau reads to you

Donatien Grau, scholar and writer — who did his DPhil at New College, Oxford — reading in the original language from the ancient Greek tragedy, The Bacchae, by Euripides


 

Gyles Brandreth reads to you

Writer, broadcaster, actor, entertainer — and New College, Oxford alumnus — Gyles Brandreth reading ‘Everything Is Going To Be All Right’, by Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon (1941–2020), from Gyles’s much-praised new anthology of poetry, Dancing By the Light of the Moon


 

Elizabeth Frazer reads to you

Elizabeth Frazer — Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow and Tutor in Politics at New College, Oxford — reading about magic, from her brilliant and wonderfully written book, Shakespeare and the Political Way (Oxford University Press, 2020)


 

Rachel Johnson reads to you

Journalist and writer — and New College Classics alumna — Rachel Johnson reading from On the Black Hill (1982), the novel by Bruce Chatwin (1940–1989), which won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Award for First Novel


 

Olivia Judson reads to you

Olivia Judson — evolutionary biologist, science journalist, writer, and New College, Oxford alumna — reading from the remarkable 1868 lecture ‘On a Piece of Chalk’ by biologist and science educationist Thomas Henry Huxley (1825–1895)


 

Rachel Johnson reads to you

Rachel Johnson — journalist, novelist, and New College, Oxford alumna — reading in witty and self-deprecating fashion about her short-lived career as a politician, from her superbly entertaining memoirs, Rake’s Progress: My Political Midlife Crisis (2020)


 

Erica Longfellow reads to you

The Reverend Erica Longfellow — Dean of Divinity and Chaplain at New College, Oxford — reading from the Christmas Day sermon of 1624, by poet and clergyman, John Donne (1572–1631)


 

Katie McKeogh reads to you

New College’s Cox Fellow, Katie McKeogh, reading from the inspiring autobiography of 1611 by Jesuit priest, William Weston (1549/50–1615), translated into English by Philip Caraman (1911–1998) as William Weston: The Autobiography of an Elizabethan (1955)


 

Ann Jefferson reads to you

Ann Jefferson, Emeritus Fellow and former Tutor in French at New College, Oxford — and Emeritus Professor of French Literature in the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, University of Oxford — reading the opening paragraph from the novel, Molloy by Samuel Beckett (1906–1989)


 

Martin Williams reads to you

Martin Williams, the University of Oxford’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) — and David Clarke Fellow in Engineering and Professorial Fellow at New College, Oxford — reading ‘Binsey Poplars’, by poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–1889), one of the Victorian era’s finest poets


 

Tina Biswas reads to you

Tina Biswas, New College alumna and novelist — author of Dancing with the Two-Headed Tigress, The Red Road, and The Antagonists — presenting the 30th reading in our ‘New College Reads To You’ podcast series with a passage from the wonderful and much-celebrated novel, A House for Mr Biswas (1961), by V. S. Naipaul (1932–2018)


 

Tina Biswas reads to you

The acclaimed and scintillating novelist, Tina Biswas — who read PPE (1997–2000) at New College, Oxford — reading from her powerful, satirical third novel, The Antagonists (Fingerprint!, 2019)


 

Michael Burden reads to you

Michael Burden — Dean and Pictures & Chattels Fellow at New College, Oxford, and University of Oxford Professor of Opera Studies — reading from a short story, ‘Oxford, Black Oxford’, by the Zimbabwean fiction writer and poet (and sometime New College student), Dambudzo Marechera (1952–1987)


 

Nur Laiq reads to you

Nur Laiq, TORCH (The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities) Global South Visiting Fellow, from New College, celebrating the United Nations’ 75th anniversary, with her reading of W. H. Auden’s 1971 poem, ‘Hymn to the United Nations’


 

Ashleigh Griffin reads to you

Ashleigh Griffin — University of Oxford Professor of Evolutionary Biology and New College Fellow — delivering a thought-provoking reading, to celebrate women at Oxford, from Dorothy Hodgkin: A Life (1998) by the writer, editor, broadcaster — and Oxford graduate — Georgina Ferry (b. 1955)


 

Rosalind Temple reads to you

Rosalind Temple, New College Fellow and University of Oxford Lecturer in Linguistics, reading in the original Welsh and in her translation into English from Bydoedd (‘Worlds’), written by academic, journalist, publisher, writer — and New College alumnus — Ned Thomas (b. 1936)


 

Masud Husain reads to you

Masud Husain — Professorial Fellow at New College and University of Oxford Professor of Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience — reading from the international bestseller, Awakenings (1973), written by neurologist, Oliver Sacks (1933–2015)


 

Stephen Mulhall reads to you

Stephen Mulhall — Russell H. Carpenter Fellow at New College and University of Oxford Professor of Philosophy — reading from The Claim of Reason: Wittgenstein, Skepticism, Morality, and Tragedy (1979), by the American philosopher, Stanley Cavell (1926–2018) 


 

Hannah Sullivan reads to you

Hannah Sullivan — University of Oxford Associate Professor, New College Fellow, and one of our College’s celebrated poets — reading from ‘The Sandpit after Rain’ from her award-winning debut poetry collection, Three Poems (Faber & Faber, 2018; Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020)


 

Daniel Harkin reads to you

New College’s Salvesen Fellow, Daniel Harkin, with a sensitive and thoughtful reading of — and commentary on — ‘The Mower’ by Philip Larkin (1922–1985), written 12 June 1979


 

Miles Young reads to you

Miles Young, Warden of New College, Oxford, delivering the 20th reading in our ‘New College Reads To You’ podcast series with ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’, a poem written in 1898 by C. P. Cavafy (1863–1933) — which he first heard read by John Julius Norwich


 

David Raeburn reads to you

David Raeburn, who taught Classics in schools and at New College for many years, reading from his translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses — about the plague in the Greek island of Aegina . . .


 

Natasha Pulley reads to you

Brilliantly inventive novelist and New College alumna, Natasha Pulley, reading from ‘The Reed-Choked House’, a story she came across while researching for her last book . . . 


 

William Poole reads to you

William Poole — New College’s John Galsworthy Fellow, Senior Tutor, and Fellow Librarian — delivering a perfectly modulated reading from Book IV of Paradise Lost, by John Milton (1608–1674)


 

Karen Leeder reads to you

Karen Leeder, Professor of Modern German Literature, reading from Porcelain: Poem on the Downfall of My City (Seagull Books, 2020), her translation — of Porzellan: Poem vom Untergang meiner Stadt, by German poet, Durs Grünbein (b. 1962) — which is being published 75 years since the Allied firebombing of Dresden


 

Richard Dawkins reads to you

Evolutionary biologist, bestselling author, and New College Emeritus Fellow, Professor Richard Dawkins, reading from his autobiography, Brief Candle in the Dark (2015) — sequel to his An Appetite for Wonder (2013)


 

Andrew Counter reads to you

Andrew Counter — University of Oxford Associate Professor and New College Fellow — reading beautifully a powerful, moving passage from The French Revolution: A History (1837) by Thomas Carlyle, which considers Louis XVI’s final hours as he takes leave of his family


 

Marcus du Sautoy reads to you

Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, University of Oxford Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and New College Fellow, reading from A Mathematician’s Apology (1940) by G. H. Hardy (1877–1947) — the book that made Marcus want to create his own mathematical stories


 

Kate Mosse reads to you

The fabulous multimillion-selling author — and New College alumna — Kate Mosse, reading from her own bestselling Gothic novel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter, set in 1912 — within the village of Fishbourne, West Sussex, where Kate herself grew up . . .


 

Kate Mosse reads to you

Internationally bestselling writer, founder director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, first female executive director of the Chichester Festival Theatre — and New College alumna — Kate Mosse, reading from ‘Little Gidding’, the fourth of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets


 

Patrick Gale reads to you

Bestselling author and New College alumnus, Patrick Gale, reading from his thirteenth novel, The Whole Day Through (2009) — the only time he has yet written about his days at New College . . .


 

Roopa Farooki reads to you

Writer, NHS medic, and alumna of New College, Roopa Farooki, reading ‘The Canonization’ by metaphysical poet and cleric, John Donne (1572–1631), which has hugely influenced her own work


 

Roopa Farooki reads to you

Roopa Farooki — novelist, NHS junior doctor, and New College alumna — reading about New College itself, from her wonderful debut novel, Bitter Sweets (Macmillan, 2007)


 

Stephen Anderson reads to you

New College’s Rodewald Lector in Classical Languages, Stephen Anderson, reading ‘Prayer’ (I) by the devotional poet, George Herbert (1593–1633)


 

Richard Dawkins reads to you

Richard Dawkins, New College Emeritus Fellow and the University of Oxford’s inaugural Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science (1995–2008), reading from Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, from the edition narrated by Richard Dawkins (CSA Word, 2006)


 

Chris Lintott reads to you

New College Research Fellow, University of Oxford Professor of Astrophysics, and the BBC’s “The Sky at Night” presenter, Chris Lintott, reading from Jérôme Lalande’s introduction to Bernard Le Bovier de Fontenelle’s Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds, translated by Elizabeth Gunning and published in 1803


 

Craig Raine reads to you

Craig Raine — poet, critic, editor, and New College Emeritus Fellow — reading his new poem, ‘Sea Urchins’, based on an Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph of Henri Matisse


 

Steven Balbus reads to you

Steven Balbus, Savilian Professor of Astronomy, reading from Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Outrageous Legacy (Norton, 1994), by 2017 Physics Nobel Laureate, Kip Thorne 


 

Laura Marcus reads to you

Laura Marcus, Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature, reading from Virginia Woolf’s most autobiographical novel, To the Lighthouse (1927) — ‘Time Passes’


 

Patrick Gale reads to you

Patrick Gale, novelist and New College alumnus, reading the hauntingly enigmatic ‘Angel Hill’ from Collected Poems 1951–2000 (Macmillan, 2000) by Cornish poet, Charles Causley (1917–2003)

 

Subscribe to New College’s YouTube channel for all readings from our ‘New College Reads To You’ podcast series, and for more New College, Oxford videos.


Acknowledgements:

Video by Christopher Thompson — Photos of New College by Michael Burden and Erica Longfellow
Produced by Sam Brown, Erica Longfellow, and Christopher Skelton-Foord


 

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