MC:F28 Papers of A. D. Godley (Fellow 1883-1912)
Alfred Dennis Godley (1856–1925) was born in Dublin and educated at Harrow, before matriculating from Balliol College in 1872, where he read Classics. After spending a few years teaching at Bradfield, he was elected a Fellow of Magdalen College in 1883, a post he held until he retired in 1912. He was in charge of teaching the “Mods” part of the Literae Humaniores course. On his retirement he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the College. In 1904–6 Godley was deputy Public Orator of the University, when William Merry, the then holder of the post, was serving as Vice-Chancellor, and he succeeded Merry as Public Orator on the latter’s resignation in 1910. He remained in this post, which gave him ample opportunities to display his excellent and elegant command of Latin, until his death. More on his life can be found in his entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Godley published several classics books, including translations of Horace and Herodotus, and a study of Oxford in the eighteenth century, but he was perhaps best known both during his lifetime and afterwards for his light verse, much of which was first published in the Oxford Magazine. Perhaps his most famous poem today is “Motor Bus”, written in 1914, which is not unusual among his works in being macaronic, partly in Latin and partly in English. Godley was also a shrewd parodist of English verse. He held staunchly conservative views: as a passionate Irish Unionist, he was opposed to Irish independence; and within Oxford he campaigned against the abolition of Greek and the awarding of degrees to women.
These are Godley’s main collections of poetry, published during or after his lifetime:
- Verses to Order (1892; revised ed. 1904)
- Lyra Frivola (1899)
- Second Strings (1902)
- The Casual Ward: Academic and other Oddments (1912)
- Reliquiae, ed. C. R.L. Fletcher (2 vols., 1926)
- Fifty Poems, ed. C. L. Graves and C. R.L. Fletcher (1927)
Some of his literary papers are in the Bodleian Library (ref .MS Eng misc d 138), as are his diaries and those of his wife (ref. MSS. Eng. misc. f. 603–26, g. 184–209).
The items in MC:F28/MS1 and MC:F28/MS3 were probably given to the College by C. R. L. Fletcher (F. 1889–1906), who evidently acted as Godley’s literary executor. MC:F28/MS2/1 was given to the College in 1935 by Fletcher’s son. It is not know how or when the other items in this collection came here.
The items in this collection are arranged as follows:
MC:F28/MS1 Collection of Godley’s Unpublished Works
MC:F28/MS2 Manuscripts of Poems by Godley
MC:F28/MS3 Texts of some of Godley’s Public Orations
MC:F28/N1 Newspaper Cuttings and other Ephemera
Recatalogued in October 2011.