George Stuart Gordon

George Stuart Gordon (1881–1942) was a British literary scholar.

Gordon was educated at Glasgow University and Oriel College, Oxford, where he received a First Class in Classical Moderations in 1904, Literae Humaniores in 1906, and the Stanhope Prize in 1905. He was a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, from 1907 to 1915.

Gordon was Professor of English Literature at the University of Leeds from 1913 to 1922. Later, he was Merton Professor of English Literature at Oxford, from 1922 to 1928;[1] President of Magdalen College, Oxford,[2] Professor of Poetry there, and Vice-Chancellor (1938–1941). He was one of the Kolbítar, J. R. R. Tolkien's group of readers of Icelandic sagas.[3][unreliable source?] His students at Oxford included the author Sherard Vines.[4]

Gordon famously argued that English Literature was capable of having a widespread and positive influence. In his inaugural lecture for his Merton professorship, he argued that "England is sick, and … English literature must save it. The Churches (as I understand) having failed, and social remedies being slow, English literature has now a triple function: still, I suppose, to delight and instruct us, but also, and above all, to save our souls and heal the State".[5]

His son, George Gordon, was a noted physiologist.[6]


  • Henry Peacham's The Compleat Gentleman (1906) editor
  • English Literature and the Classics (1912) editor, contribution on Theophrastus
  • Mons and the Retreat (1917)[7]
  • Medium Aevum and the Middle Age (1925) Society for Pure English Tract 19
  • Richard II (Shakespeare) (1925) editor
  • On writing and writers, Walter Alexander Raleigh (1926) editor
  • Companionable Books (1927)
  • Shakespeare's English (1928) Society for Pure English Tract 29
  • Anglo-American Literary Relations (1942)
  • The Letters of G. S. Gordon, 1902-1942 (1943)
  • Shakespearian Comedy and other studies (1945)
  • The Discipline of Letters (1946)
  • Robert Bridges (1946) Rede Lecture
  • More Companionable Books (1947)
  • The Lives of Authors (1950)


  • Mary C. Biggar Gordon (1945) The Life of George S. Gordon 1881–1942


  1. ^ "Professorships Held by the Inklings".
  2. ^ He had been a Fellow of Magdalen from 1907; mentioned in C. S. Lewis, Letters p.208. Gordon tutored Lewis."Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 February 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2007.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  3. ^ "Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien". Planet Tolkien. Archived from the original on 25 July 2011.
  4. ^ Snell, William (2008). "Five Previously Unpublished Poems by Sherard Vines" (PDF). The Geibun-Kenkyu: Journal of Arts and Letters. 95: 501.
  5. ^ Wheen, Francis (2004). How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. Harper Perennial. p. 82.
  6. ^ "George Gordon". BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
  7. ^ Under MI7; see PDF
Academic offices
Preceded by
Thomas Herbert Warren
President of Magdalen College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Henry Thomas Tizard
Preceded by
Alexander Dunlop Lindsay
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
William David Ross