All Souls

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All Souls College is the setting of another great Oxford saucy scandal. The drama centred on Charles Slatter, a 19-year-old errand boy from a nearby bookshop. In Oct 1808 Slatter delivered some books to the rooms of Charles Shipley, a Fellow of All Souls. Afterwards, Slatter accused Shipley of making lewd propositions and indecently assaulting him. The ensuing scandal, delightfully pieced together in All Souls and the Shipley Case 1808-1810 (2002) by John McManners, comes across to modern sensibilities as a cross between a Carry On film and an Inspector Morse mystery.

Slatter, it transpired, was a boy with a reputation. With their father’s connivance, Slatter and two of his brothers were associated with men of notoriety and, as a result, the boys were rarely short of money. Armed with this information, an Oxford court took just ten minutes to acquit Shipley. The Warden of All Souls, however, was not convinced that Shipley’s conduct had been worthy of that of a gentleman and insisted the College hold its own enquiry. At these proceedings Shipley was convicted of being motivated ‘by an impure disposition of mind’ and was expelled from All Souls.

Author, teacher, and mystical scholar Andrew Harvey (b. 1952) studied at All Souls. Harvey was born in South India where he lived until the age of nine—a period he credits with shaping his vision of the inner unity of all religions. Having left India to attend private school in England, Harvey entered the University of Oxford in 1970 to study History on a scholarship. At the age of 21 he became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Fellow of All Souls. In 1977 he became disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to India to continue his spiritual path. He has written and edited over 30 books including The Essential Gay Mystics (1997).

www.andrewharvey.net

 

[Image]: AndrewHarvey [Credit]: Daily Information, 13 Feb 1975

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