William Archibald Spooner

From Academic Kids

William Archibald Spooner (July 22, 1844August 29, 1930) was educated at Oswestry School and New College, Oxford and became an Anglican priest and a scholar. He was ordained deacon in 1872 and priest in 1875.

During a 60-year association with Oxford University in England, he became fellow (1867), lecturer (1868), tutor (1869), dean (18761889) and warden (from 1903) of New College; he lectured on ancient history, philosophy—especially on Aristotle's ethics—and divinity.

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

Spooner seems to have been something of an absent-minded professor. He once invited a faculty member to tea "to welcome our new archaeology Fellow." "But, sir," the man replied, "I am our new archaeology Fellow." "Never mind," Spooner said, "Come all the same."

Spooner has become famous for his "spoonerisms", funny mis-statements that result from the transposition of initial consonants. Few if any of his own spoonerisms were deliberate, and many of those attributed to him are apocryphal. Spooner himself hated the reputation he gained for getting his words muddled.

Quotations

  • In the opinion of Roy Harrod, William Spooner overtopped all the heads of Oxford and Cambridge colleges he had known "having regard to his scholarship, devotion to duty, and wisdom".
  • "Come into the arms of the shoving leopard" instead of the "come into the arms of the loving shepherd" that he meant to say in one of his homilies.

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