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Somerville College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxfordmarker in Englandmarker, and was one of the first women's colleges to be founded there. As of 2006, Somerville had an estimated financial endowment of £44.5 million.The college is located at the southern end of Woodstock Roadmarker, with Little Clarendon Streetmarker to the south and Walton Streetmarker to the west.


In June 1878, the Association for the Higher Education of Women was formed, aiming for the eventual creation of a college for women in Oxford. Some of the more prominent members of the association were Dr. Bradley, master of University Collegemarker, T. H. Green, a prominent liberal philosopher, and Edward Stuart Talbot, Warden of Keble Collegemarker. The latter insisted on a specifically Anglican institution, which was unacceptable to most of the other members. The two parties eventually split, and one went on to found Lady Margaret Hallmarker. Thus, in 1879, a second committee was formed "in which no distinction will be made between students on the ground of their belonging to different religious denominations". The members of this second committee included Dr. John Percival, Dr. G. W. Kitchin, A. H. D. Ackland, T. H. Green, Mary Ward, William Sidgwick, Henry Nettleship and A. G. Vernon Harcourt. This new effort resulted in the founding of Somerville Hall, named for the then recently deceased Mary Somerville, one of the greatest Scottish mathematicians of the 19th century. The hall was renamed Somerville College in 1894.

Somerville College was converted into a hospital during World War IRobert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon were patients there. Sassoon opens Siegfried's Progress with a reference to the college. In Good-bye to All That, Graves comments that in all there were only about a hundred and fifty graduates at Oxford at the time — Rhodes Scholars, Indians and men who were unfit. Thomas Earp, whom Graves met there, set himself the task of keeping the Oxford tradition alive and was president and sole member of seventeen undergraduate social and literary societies.

Somerville remained a women's college until 1992. Today around 50% of students are men.

Principals of Somerville Hall and Somerville College

Notable alumni

See also Former students of Somerville College, Oxford


  1. Oxford College Endowment Incomes, 1973-2006 (updated July 2007)
  2. As the statutes of the College did not permit the Principal to marry, Miss Pestell resigned, married and was re-elected as Principal, however there was a two week period when the College had no Principal.


  • Somerville for Women: an Oxford College 1879–1993, Pauline Adams (Oxford University Press, 1996) ISBN 0-19-920179-X.

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