Saturday, 3 November 2012

John Wayne goes to Oxford

One year way back when, I was planning a research trip to the UK, with stops to see some manuscripts at the BL and the Bodleian. I had never used the manuscript rooms at either place, so I emailed to see how to get permission. The BL was fairly straightforward with directions, but the person I contacted at the Bodleian wrote that he’d have to check with Duke Humfreys about the MS I wanted to see.  He later wrote again to say that Duke Humfreys had granted permission to use the manuscript library.

Somehow, my American brain just assumed that “Duke” was a first name, kind of like Bo or Jeb, or Butch — one of those. Why I did not think “Duke” = nobleman and “Duke Humfreys” = ancient aristocratic benefactor of Oxford for whom library is named, I don’t know. Instead, I thought that Duke Humfreys must be a very powerful librarian indeed, since the other librarians apparently deferred to him.

So I wrote back expressing my gratitude to “Mr. Humfreys” for letting me use his library.

Oops. heh heh.
-Lara Farina


  1. This is brilliant, thanks so much! -Asa

  2. OMG! You made my day and my night!!!

  3. I love, love, love this story. I am sure I have done the same thing, only being the grovelling sort, I probably would have written to Dr. Humfreys!