My Two Oxfords
A special edition honoring an adored Mississippi writer on the 75th anniversary of his birth
One of America's most beloved authors and a master of the personal essay, Willie Morris (1934–1999) wrote nineteen books and hundreds of articles and reflections. To honor his memory on the seventy-fifth anniversary of his birth (November 29, 1934), My Two Oxfords is a special edition of one of these choice essays.
In this piece, he addresses the quirky circumstance of having lived in “two of the world's most disparate places. ” There were two Oxfords in his life—Oxford University in England, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar in the 1950s, and Oxford, Mississippi, the home of the University of Mississippi, where he was writer-in-residence when he wrote the essay.
Among the obvious contrasts between the two places, Morris finds complexity: “The legendary beauty of the Ole Miss coed is not myth. The girls of Oxford, England, so stringently screened by some of the world's most demanding academic requirements, were often dour; yet the occasional warm-spirited beauty among them was always worth the waiting. . . . By the same token, the intellectual Ole Miss sorority girl of good and gentle disposition is a joyous song in the heart and will endure. ”
This essay is quintessential Morris—lyrical and evocative, a blend of personal experience and memory, history, a strong sense of place, and a bit of whimsy. A foreword by JoAnne Prichard Morris and a photograph by David Rae Morris make this edition a must-have for Willie Morris's many fans.