As the name of the first book, Oxford Blood, implies, The Cavaliers is set at Oxford University. For me, it’s as much an ‘Oxford novel,’ as it is a ‘vampire novel,’ and in many ways, I consider the University to be one of the main characters! Therefore, I thought a brief introduction to the place might be useful.
Oxford University is the oldest University in the English speaking world. It’s actually so old that no one knows exactly when it was founded. The earliest records date from 1096, but it’s probably at least a few years older than that. For centuries, it was one of only two universities in England, along with Cambridge (founded around 1209 – practically modern!). They two of them have an intense rivalry, but are accepted as the two best universities in the country and amongst the top ten best in the world.
Somewhat confusingly, Oxford is divided into 38 colleges. The lectures and exams are organised on a university wide basis, but students live and socialise in colleges, and, especially for arts subjects, a lot of the teaching is done within college too. In The Cavaliers, most of the characters attend Lilith College, which is made up, though based fairly heavily on one of the real colleges. I won’t specify which one, but those in the know are welcome to guess in the comments.
Oxford has an astonishing list of alumni, and either a very effective system of getting its alumni into positions of power or a striking ability to attract those students who are destined for greatness. Most notably, 26 of the UK’s Prime Ministers studied there. There have apparently also been, amongst other things:
*30 other world leaders (including Bill Clinton
*20 Archbishops on Canterbury (the head of the Church of England)
*Around 50 Olympic medal winners
*Countless famous writes, including Oscar Wilder, Tolkien, CS Lewis and TS Elliot
*Tons of famous scientists.
Apart from being old and successful, one of the most striking things about Oxford is its incredibly beautiful old buildings. It’s not just the fact that there is lots of stunning architecture, it’s that in the town centre, 90% of the buildings are pre-twentieth century and fantastically elaborate. The first time I went there I almost went into shock. There are some pictures below, but they don’t quite do justice to the full scale assault on the senses that walking through the city provides. If you live in or are planning to travel to the UK, I seriously suggest going for a look around. If you’re currently at school and fairly bright, I even more seriously suggest applying to study there – for more info on this, see the next page.