The Unexpected Professor

John Carey (, English professor at Oxford, controversial commentator, book critic and beekeeper, reflects on a life immersed in literature, from grammar school beginnings to the Oxford establishment. Best-known for his provocative take on cultural issues in The Intellectuals and the Masses and What Good Are the Arts?, John Carey describes in this warm and funny memoir the events that formed him – an escape from the London blitz to an idyllic rural village, army service in Egypt, an open scholarship to Oxford in the 1950s and an academic career that saw him elected, at age forty, to Oxford’s oldest English Literature professorship. Books formed the backbone of his life – from Biggles in his boyhood home in the Midlands to G. K. Chesterton in his West London grammar school to his rigorous scholarship on Milton in Oxford. He writes about the rewards of his forty-year career as the Sunday Times lead book reviewer and his inspiring meetings with writers and poets: Auden, Graves, Larkin, Heaney. This is a book about war, love and family, and the journey from an ordinary background to the heart of the academic establishment. But above all, it is about the joys of reading – an informal, personal introduction to the great works of English literature. This is one to savour. I heartily recommend it.


384 pages in Faber & Faber

ISBN 978-0571310920









John Carey

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