Professor of Poetry | University of Oxford
Alice Oswald credit Aleksandra Majak
Alice Oswald credit Aleksandra Majak
Credit: (c) Aleksandra Majak

Professor of Poetry

Alice Oswald is the current Professor of Poetry. She was elected in Trinity Term 2019 to serve for four years.

Ms Oswald is a multi-award-winning poet whose accolades include the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2012 and the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize, which she won for her seventh collection of poems, Falling Awake. She has succeeded Simon Armitage – the UK’s new Poet Laureate.

Professor Ros Ballaster, Chair of the English Faculty Board at Oxford, said: ‘Poetry plays an important role in our universities and society. It is a place for reflection in language and about language. I am delighted to welcome the 46th Professor of Poetry at Oxford to the English Faculty, confident that this new voice will challenge and excite audiences as predecessors have done.

‘The election of Alice Oswald will also see the tenure of our first female Professor of Poetry. To adopt the words in her own poetry, it is the fulfilment of long balancing “the weight of hope against the light of patience”. Hers is a remarkable, resonant talent and we count ourselves privileged to host her for the next four years. We know that she will foster with wisdom and generosity the talent of others in Oxford and beyond.’

A new Oxford Professor of Poetry is elected every four years, and their responsibilities include giving a public lecture each term, as well as an oration at the University’s honorary degree ceremony every other year.

Voting was open to members of Convocation, a group that includes Oxford graduates who have had their degree formally conferred, and members of staff who make up the University’s ‘parliament’, known as Congregation.

Past Professors of Poetry

18th CenturyDate of Professorship
Joseph Trapp (1679–1747)
Thomas Warton (1688[?]–1745)
Joseph Spence (1699–1768)
John Whitfield ([?])
Robert Lowth (1710–87)
William Hawkins (1722–1801)
Thomas Warton (1728–90)
B. Wheeler ([?])
John Randolph (1749–1813)
Robert Holmes (1748–1805)
James Hurdis (1763–1801)

1708–18
1718–28
1728–38
1738–41
1741–51
1751–6
1756–66
1766–76
1776–83
1783–93
1793–1802

19th Century 
Edward Copleston (1776–1849)
John Josias Conybeare (1779–1824)
Henry Hart Milman (1791–1868)
John Keble (1792–1866)
James Garbett (1802–79)
Thomas Legh Claughton (1808–92)
Matthew Arnold (1822–88)
Sir Francis Hastings Charles Doyle (1810–88)
J C Shairp (1819–85)
Francis Turner Palgrave (1824–97)
William John Courthorpe (1842–1917)
1802–12
1812–21
1821–31
1831–42
1842–52
1852–7
1857–67
1867–77
1877–85
1885–95
1895–1900
20th Century 
A C Bradley (1851–1935)
J W Mackail (1859–1945)
Sir Thomas Herbert Warren (1853–1930)
[Vacancy]
W P Ker (1855–1923)
H W Garrod (1878–1960)
E. de Selincourt (1870–1943)
George Gordon (1881–1942)
Adam Fox (1883–1977)
[Vacancy]
Sir Maurice Bowra (1898–1971)
Cecil Day-Lewis (1904–72)
W H Auden (1907–73)
Robert Graves (1895–1985)
Edmund Blunden (1896–1974)
Roy B Fuller (1912–91)
John Wain (1925–94)
John Jones (1924– )
Peter Levi (1931–2000)
Seamus Heaney (1939–2013 )
James Fenton (1949– )
Paul Muldoon (1951– )
1901–6
1906–11
1911–16
[Vacancy 1917–19]
1920–3
1923–8
1928–33
1933–8
1938–43
[Vacancy 1944–5]
1946–51
1951–5
1956–61
1961–6
1966–8
1968–73
1973–8
1979–84
1984–9
1989–94
1994–9
1999–2004
21st Century 

Christopher Ricks (1933– )
Sir Geoffrey Hill (1932–2016)

Simon Armitage (1963– )

2004–9
2010–15

2015-19