Sunday 21 July 2019

175 Years of Spoonerisms

This week sees the 175th anniversary of the birth of the Rev. William Archibald Spooner (22nd July 1844). OK, so it's maybe not the most exciting historical fact you may have come across, but please bear with me and let me explain….

Oxford don Spooner was notable for his absent-mindedness and propensity to mix up his syllables and words, often to comic effect. These are now popularly known as spoonerisms.

Born in London and educated at Oswestry School, he went on to study at New College, Oxford where he remained for more than 60 years serving as a fellow, lecturer, tutor, dean and warden. He lectured on ancient history, divinity and philosophy. 

He was a very popular and amiable man, being highly respected by his peers. Described as “an albino", small with a pink face and having exceptionally poor eyesight, it is said that he had a head rather too large in proportion to the rest of his body.

He died in 1930 at the age of 86 and is buried in Grasmere Cemetery in Cumbria.

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