China and Oxford

China and Oxford

annotation 2022 09 16

The University of Oxford’s first Chinese language book appeared in its library in 1604, and bears an inscription from Sir Thomas Bodley, the founder of the Bodleian Library. As Sir Thomas did not know Chinese, the inscription was made with the book upside-down. Oxford would host its first visitor from China in 1684, and in 1876 would welcome James Legge as the first Oxford Chair of Chinese.

The first BA course in Chinese was introduced in 1939. In 1935-1937 Qian Zhongshu 錢鍾書, a famous Chinese writer and literary scholar, studied in Exeter College towards a Bachelor Degree in Literature. As late as the mid-1990s, fewer than one hundred Chinese students studied in Oxford each year; now, China is one of the university’s largest sources of international students.

The university currently has more than three thousand alumni in the Greater China area. For more general information on the university’s links to China, please see here and here. If you are interested in the study of China at Oxford, see here. For libraries and museums at the university with collections of Chinese material, see here.

qian zhongshu 1940s

Qian Zhongshu