William Archibald Spooner


Biography of William Archibald Spooner

William Archibald Spooner (22 July 1844 – 29 August 1930) was a famous Oxford don whose name is given to the linguistic phenomenon of spoonerism.

Spooner was born at 17 Chapel Street, Grosvenor Place, London, SW1. He was educated at Oswestry School (where he was a contemporary of Frederick Gustavus Burnaby) and New College, Oxford, where he was the first non-Wykehamist to become an undergraduate. He was ordained deacon in the Church of England in 1872 and priest in 1875.

He remained at New College for more than sixty years, serving as Fellow (1867), Lecturer (1868), Tutor (1869), Dean (1876–1889), and Warden (1903–1924). He lectured on ancient history, divinity, and philosophy (especially on Aristotle's ethics).

Spooner was well liked and respected, described as, "an albino, small, with a pink face, poor eyesight, and a head too large for his body", and, "His reputation was that of a genial, kindly, hospitable man."

In the opinion of Roy Harrod, William Spooner exceeded all the heads of Oxford and Cambridge colleges he had known "having regard to his scholarship, devotion to duty, and wisdom."

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