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Plenty of quirkiness to write home about
WE know Oxford is a special city. And a new book will give you a story about why for every day of the year.
Abingdon author Marilyn Yurdan hopes to bring a unique perspective on the city in The Oxford Book of Days.
Published by The History Press, it takes the reader on a quirky year-long trip down Oxford’s memory lane.
From giant rats in Cowley to all-conquering band Radiohead, she said she hopes to prove there is much more to Oxford than its universities.
And she has used the pages of the Oxford Mail for inspiration.
The 66-year-old said: “Even as a historian I was surprised at some of the things I found. It was a lovely, really enjoyable book to write.
“People think ‘Oxford’ and instantly think ‘university’ but I wanted to make it more than that.
“It was part of a series. The History Press are doing books on other cities and hoped to brings a unique perspective on each place. I wrote it as a kind of ‘dip-into’ book, a light-hearted collection of stories from the city’s history covering each day of the year.
“It was a challenge coming up with something different, especially when I was trying to make it more ‘town’ and less ‘gown’.
“Researching history of Oxford you tend to find lots about architecture and lecturers but what people want is the oddities.”
The Oxford Book of Days is Mrs Yurdan’s 24th book, and the one she said she had the most fun writing.
Since its Saxon origins, the city has evolved dramatically.
The book tells us that on January 8, 1942, renowned scientist and professor Stephen Hawking was born in the city.
And on January 27, 1967, thousands of people turned out in Cornmarket to gain a glimpse of Senator Robert Kennedy as he left the Oxford Union.
In one of the weirder examples, on March 13, 1998, workers at the Unigate Dairy in Kidlington received a special order for 100 pints of milk to be sent to an Irish baby giraffe.
Mrs Yurdan added: “I wanted to use more up to date events to show people just how varied the history of Oxford is.”
Her previous books for the History Press include Working Oxfordshire, Oxford in the ’50s and ’60s, Street Names of Oxfordshire and Oxfordshire Graves and Gravestones.
Having acquired a taste for the offbeat, Mrs Yurdan said her next book will be a transcription of herbal remedies which have been in a friend’s family since the 18th century.
- To buy a copy of The Oxford Book of Days or find out more, visit thehistorypress.co.uk